Leopards stalk KCB prey

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NAIROBI, Kenya, April 7- AFC Leopards are keen to bounce back from their loss to Western Stima when they entertain KCB in their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) tie at City Stadium on Sunday.

Sixth placed Leopards are three points off the top and face the team that is immediately above them in the league table on goal difference. Both have nine points.

“We have had a good start to the season and we have put what happened over the weekend behind us. Our plan is to be among the leaders at the end of the first leg before going for the league title,” coach Robert Matano told Capital Sport on Thursday.

Leopards lost 1-0 to Stima in Kakamega when defender Douglas Okumu turned the ball into his own net after Kevin Amwayi’s delivery from a free-kick in the first half.

“A moment of lack of concentration cost us in the game. We have talked about that with my players and they are ready to return to winning,” Matano, who took over the coaching role Belgian Robert Bollen at the start of the season, added.

The 13 time domestic club champions lost their league opener 2-0 to Tusker before stringing three victories on the trot against Rangers (3-1), champions Ulinzi Stars (1-0) and Karuturi Sports (1-0) ahead of their weekend short circuiting at Stima.

“My aim is to return AFC to their place at the top of the league by the end of the season. We have the right environment and a management team that listens in place. I will add a few players in the transfer window to strengthen the squad.

“I’m encouraged by what I have seen so far and I have a good team. I played for this club and I know what it takes to win with them and that is what I’m working on,” Matano expressed.

The KPL title winning coach with Sofapaka in 2009 added, “When I came with Sofapaka from the Nationwide League, they were ready to win the title. Here at AFC, there is some work left to be done and I’m building the team patiently. AFC should be back competing in the continent in the next two seasons.”

Injured striker, Brian Masiolo, who is sweating for fitness after hurting his knee ahead of the match stated, “There is a lot of pressure from our fans to do well and that is why we are trying very hard to keep winning. We have to start with our next match.”

At the same time, the club’s management announced Thursday Leopard’s merchandise would hit selected stores in three weeks time while a membership recruitment drive targeting 15,000 new fans by the end of the year would be launched soon.

“We ordered our famous blue and white stripped replica jerseys, scarves, stickers and many other items and they will be arriving in the next two weeks and ready for sale a week later.

“This is among many efforts we have put in place to attract revenue for the club, expand our fan base and make our supporters feel part of the team,” Leopards CEO, Richard Ekhalie told Capital Sport.

Chairman Alex Ole Magelo added: “We shall soon launch our Facebook branch that has been supporting us very well officially and issue membership structures for new members. AFC is the most supported club in the country and we want to tap into that support to generate income.”

The proposed annual membership comes in three rates of Sh1, 000, Sh5, 000 and Sh10,000 for ordinary, premier and executive categories with the club set to unveil season tickets that can also be acquired online.

Administratively, current officials are working on amending the club’s constitution to give office holders minimum three years tenure in a bid to stem the wrangling that has stalled its progress.

“As per the recommendations of the Sports Ministry, we need to stabilise management of the club to give officials time to set up structures to fulfill their vision.

“Of course, the proposed changes will involve all our members and if they reject them, we have no problem,” Ole Magelo, who ousted previous chairman, Julius Ochiel in hotly contested elections in February, noted.

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