NAIROBI, Kenya, February 27 – Trouble is brewing at The Den with AFC Leopards forced to delay their departure to South Africa with key midfielder, Peter Opiyo, being ruled out of their CAF Confederations Cup clash against SuperSport United over a detained passport.
Head coach, James Nandwa, said Thursday that Opiyo would miss the opening tie of their two legged fixture against Matatsantsa since his travel documents are being held by the embassy of the country he had gone for trials.
“We have trained well and we are ready for the match, though most of my key players will not be available for this match and that is a big blow to us.
“Opiyo is our latest player who will not be travelling with the team since he doesn’t have his passport, so we will have to bring in Musa Mudde and Bernard Mang’oli to replace him,” the Harambee Stars assistant coach told Capital Sport at their training ground.
In further embarrassment to the club, their departure on the same day was deferred because their visas were not ready from the South African High Commission in an incident that calls to questions the efficacy of their officials in planning for the trip.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we had a problem with our visas which were not ready because we had planned to travel today (Thursday) morning, but I hope we will depart (later) today. I don’t know what’s going on because we submitted our travel documents at the right time but maybe it’s a strategy the South Africans are using to delay us.
“If it continues like this and leave on Friday it will affect our game plan since we will not have enough time to train,” he added.
Subsequently, the club is reported to have requested SuperSport to move the fixture back by a day to Sunday to enable them prepare well.
Nandwa however said the two draws in their domestic league will not affect his charges since this is a different competition.
“Every thing has its own time, we are now concentrating on the Confederations Cup where our main target is to reach to third round. I know we are going to meet a professional side who are well organised, they have good forwards so our strategy is to play behind the ball and try to beat them in counter attacks since they don’t have strong defenders.
“Our aim is to approach the game with a plan and make sure we don’t concede any goal since we will be playing away. This is our first time to play against them so it’s a challenge and we expect anything to happen,” he explained.
Captain Martin Imbalambala, was confident they will emerge victorious and added the late arrival will not affect their game plan.
“We know we have to work hard at this match but we are also a good team. I have encouraged my colleagues to maintain the morale even though we will be fatigued if we leave for South Africa Friday but we will give our best.”
Ingwe have been forced to alter their game plan after forwards Allan Wanga and Noah Wafula, were sidelined with injuries with left back Abdalla Juma suspended for picking two yellow cards.
However the soft spoken coach said Jackson Saleh, will replace Juma at the back, while upfront Mike Khamati will slot in for Wanga to partner Jacob Keli and Paul Were who makes a comeback after missing the preliminary return leg to Defence FC of Ethiopia.
The match is scheduled for Saturday with the return leg set for a week later in Nairobi.