NAIROBI, October 22 – Broke AFC Leopards trip to Mumias to prepare for Sunday’s SportPesa Premier League clash against Muhoroni Youth almost aborted Thursday when players protested against non-payment of their dues.
With club officials nowhere in sight, the players who have gone unpaid for most of the season, refused to board their bus parked at Nairobi’s Central Business District from 9am until Organising Secretary, Peter Lichungu showed up two hours later and persuaded them to continue with their journey.
According to Dan Mule one of the claimants to the interim chairman position, the team was to travel to Mumias after Wednesday’s GOtv Shield Round of 16 clash against Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru, but their decision to return back to Nairobi threw everything into a spin.
“We had fuelled the bus yesterday (Wednesday) and the arrangement was to leave for Mumias immediately after the match but they came back to Nairobi after some of them saying they didn’t carry clothes.
“Some of the money from the fund raiser is still held by Mathews Opwora (his rival for the post) who is yet to release it to help the club. Having played our last home matches behind closed doors, we didn’t have gate collections to pay for player allowances,” Mule told Capital Sport.
Team manager, Francis Xavier condemned lack of co-ordination in the office that is being run by two factions, emphasising it’s the root cause of their poor performance this season that sunk further to the abyss when Ulinzi mauled them 4-0 in the domestic cup to end any lingering hopes of silverware this term.
“We were supposed to leave at 9am but we had to wait for two hours to be released by officials who are supposed to cater for logistics. We wanted at least to get our allowances for the latest matches but we are still waiting.
“A fundraiser was done and the office paid one and half month salary arrears but having two factions has really dragged us behind. Our preparations in the last four months have been poor because players have gone on strike and with that environment, they can’t deliver 100 percent,” Xavier, a former player, affirmed before they finally departed.
All the players led by skipper, Jackson Saleh left for Mumias and are set to be joined by head coach Zdravko Logarusic on Friday.
Lichungu, confirmed their former title sponsor, Mumias Sugar, had agreed to cater for their accommodation while in camp at the western part of the country, but was optimistic Ingwe woes will end soon when the club conducts elections in December.
“We have been having a lot of confusion in the team and that has contributed to poor performance. We have been using Mumias replica and in return they have given us accommodation from yesterday (Wednesday) until Saturday when we play Muhoroni.
“I’m planning to go and have talks with my counterparts in Gor Mahia to organise a Mashemeji derby to raise funds for both clubs and see if we can solve our financial problems,” the former player, underlined.
Limping Leopards face inform Muhoroni Youth in Kisumu in a match they must win to cement their Top 8 place next season before looking to finish the season on a high when they wrap up their campaign with fellow strugglers Tusker FC.
This is the latest pay dispute to waft from the Den in a campaign plagued by financial woes that saw the team decimated mid season when half their players jumped ship for greener pastures.