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Troubled Leopards seeks GOtv Shield solace

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AFC Leopards fans wondering what went wrong after seeing their team thrashed 3-0 at home by bitter rivals Gor Mahia in Sunday’s Mashemeji Derby at Nyayo Nayo National Stadium on 7th May, 2017.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6- They might have taken their GOtv Shield second round home tie against Nairobi Stima to their ‘traditional home ground’ in Mumias for a touch of good luck just to get their mojo back, but AFC Leopards desperately need a win.

Ingwe have not won over the last eight Kenyan Premier League matches and find themselves dropping down the pecking order but in the GOtv Shield they have a perfect chance of redeeming themselves.

“Things have not been going our way but I still believe that we can get things together. We only need that win to boost our confidence and that is what we want to do with the Nairobi Stima match,” stand-in coach Tom Juma told Capital Sport.

However, AFC Leopards who won the Shield in 2013 will find a potential banana skin in Nairobi Stima who are flying high in the National Super League, currently placed second on 35 points, same as leaders Vihiga United but with an inferior goal difference.

Juma concedes it will not be a walk in the park against the second tier side, but holds solace in the fact that his boys are hungry for a win especially to ease pressure off their backs.

“Nairobi Stima is a good team and I have watched them play. We should not take that match for granted and I have told the players as well that we cannot afford to relax. They have players with Premier League experience and it will not be easy,” Juma added.

AFC Leopards’ midfielder Whyvonne Isuza vies for the ball with Nzoia Sugar’s Victor Omondi in a Kenyan Premier League match on April 1, 2017 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

AFC Leopards progressed to the second round courtesy of a 15-1 hiding they gave Siaya based side Dero FC in the first round, but Juma will not be dwelling much on that, instead choosing to put his concentration on switching off Stima.

“For us, we don’t look at the opponent. We are taking a match at a time and giving it the seriousness it deserves. We can’t even talk of winning the title despite the fact it has been almost four years without any. It is a step at a time,” Juma noted.

Stima are on a run of 14 unbeaten matches since their 2-0 loss to Ushuru FC on March 26. From the 14 games, they have picked 10 wins and four draws, conceding only two goals in the process.

The side led by former Kenyan international Ibrahim Shikanda boasts of an experienced side. Ivan Anguyo, Joseph Shikokoti, Evans Maliachi, Cain Okeyo and Victor Omune, a former AFC Leopards man, are among the ex-KPL faces in the squad.

Heading into the Mumias fixture, Ingwe have been dealt a major blow with four first team players missing with injury.

Defender Marcus Abwao, a former Nairobi Stima player, Salim Abdallah as well as midfielders Allan Katterega and Whyvonne Isuza have all been out nursing injuries and will not be fit enough to walk into the pitch on Saturday.

Juma, who is warming the seat for the imminent arrival of Robert Matano next week, least worried that the absence of the four will lean them off favor for the tie.

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