NAIROBI, Kenya, February 17-GOtv Shield winners AFC Leopards head coach, James Nandwa, is targetting at least the third round of CAF Confederation Cup after his charges stormed to the first stage by breaching Ethiopia’s Defence 4-2 on aggregate over two legs of their preliminary tie.
Leopards returned home Sunday night from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after inflicting a 2-1 defeat on the hosts to seal their passage following a 2-0 home leg win where they will face former South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions, SuperSport United, in the first round of the second tier continental tournament.
“We had a good reception in Addis Ababa and that encouraged my boys to play according to our plan and give their best.
“I’m pleased with my midfield because there is extreme improvement compared to when we played in the first leg in Nairobi. New comer Musa Mudde, combined well with Peter Opiyo, Bernard Mang’oli and Charles Okwemba to dominate the match against Defence FC,” Nadwa said Monday after giving his squad the day off.
The Harambee Stars assistant coach was full of praise to the national team striker, Allan Wanga, who netted both goals after missing the first leg due to a knee knock.
Nandwa was however hopeful forward Noah Wafula, who was ruled out for two weeks, will be available when they host SuperSport in Nairobi for their first leg tie on March 1 to boost his attacking force.
“We will have to work extra hard since we are set to meet a strong a team that has been to this competition for a long time. But I have confidence we will make it since the team has already picked up the rhythm especially after embracing team work.
“We have depth in our squad that’s why we were not affected that much when Wanga missed in the first leg same as Paul Were who was absent in our return match, its because we have more than two players in each position to replace when one is unavailable,” he continued.
Confirming speedy winger Were, the star of the first leg win after he set up both goals had departed the club, Nandwa said he was happy with his move.
“Were is in South Africa to conduct trials with one of the top team that plays in the country’s PSL. I’m happy for him since its all every player wishes for.
“The doors are still open for the winger if he does not succeed. We will welcome him back but if the deal goes through, it’s a good thing for the club and the country because I’m sure his football skills will grow and we will need him to do duty for our national team.”
The Stars forward will conduct trials with Bidvest Wits FC, a University PSL side that is fourth on the current log on 28 points, 12 off the lead and one adrift of SuperSport.
Ingwe will now have to concentrate on the Kenyan Premier League new season that kicked-off over the weekend and play tricky KCB in their opener on Wednesday at Nyayo National Stadium before inviting Ulinzi Stars on Sunday at Mumias sports Complex.
Having already improved from previous performance where they bowed out in the preliminary round in 2010 at the expense of another Ethiopian side Banks SC, Nandwa will be out to make history to steer the club to the quarterfinals Ingwe last appeared in 1997.
If Leopards beat SuperSport United, they will play winner between DRC’s CARA Brazzavile and 2006 champions Étoile du Sahel from Tunisia in the third round before reaching the group stage.
Sofapaka are the last team to have reached the third round in 2011, after Egyptian side Ismaily knocked them out in post-match penalties in Nairobi.