NAIROBI, Kenya, February 28 – SuperSport United have laid the bait to prey on AFC Leopards when the two clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in their opening CAF Confederation Cup first round clash on Saturday according to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) side captain, Bevan Fransman.
While Ingwe coach, James Nandwa, admitted little knowledge on their opponents, who incidentally played live on their parent satellite television channel SuperSport against Bidvest Wits that is available here on Tuesday, Fransman said they would study videos on Leopards shot by their spies who were sent here in the past week to snare their Kenyan rivals.
“We don’t have much information on them yet, but hopefully our analysts can bring some information back and inform us over the next two days more about them,” Fransman, told South African website The Citizen.
Nandwa told Capital Sport on Thursday, “This is the first time for a Kenyan team to play against a South African team (arch rivals Gor Mahia did play Hellenic, now Benoni Premier United in 1993) and even when I was playing I never met them, so I don’t know the team well.”
Leopards chances of beating the two-time PSL champions are now in doubt since they are set to depart Nairobi for Cape Town on Friday night after CAF declined their plea to push the tie on Sunday.
“It will be difficult for us to adapt the environment if we arrive there on Friday and play the next day (Saturday). My players will also be fatigued and that may affect our performance,” Nandwa added.
Ingwe were forced to reschedule their Thursday morning departure to Friday after their visas were not ready from the South African High Commission.
This incident calls to questions the efficacy of their officials in planning for the trip since they knew application for South Africa visas take seven working days after they claim to have taken the traveling documents last Friday.
With Matsatsantsa having all their squad, Leopards on the other hand will head down south without three key players, forward Allan Wanga, who picked up a knee injury during a training session, left back Abdalla Juma, who has two yellow cards and Harambee Stars midfielder Peter Opiyo, who is ruled out over a detained passport.
Both teams enter the continental tie having failed to register victories in their last domestic league matches, where Leopards were held to a goalless draw by 2010 champions Ulinzi Stars while SuperSport suffered a 3-2 loss to Bidvest.
Both SuperSport and Leopards skippers says their teams are looking to bounce back in the continental competition and the league results will not affect their performance.
“We are mentally prepared for the match and these are two different competitions, every game has its own game plan. Since we started by winning in the confederations Cup in the preliminary round, we hope to give our best and continue with the good run,” Leopards captain Martin Imbalambala, stated.
“It’s important. Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re playing so soon after that disaster against Wits.
“Maybe it’s a good thing to get it off the mind, get it out the system, get back on the field playing put things right and get back to winning ways,” his opposite number asserted.
Nandwa is targeting an away goal and a clean sheet so that they can increase their chances of qualifying for the second round, when they invite them for the return leg in Nairobi.
Jackson Saleh will partner James Situma, Edwin Wafula, and stopper Joseph Shikokoti at the back in place of Juma.
Bernard Mang’oli will replace Opiyo in the midfield alongside Ugandan Musa Mudde, Charles Okwemba and Augustine Etemesi while Paul Were who missed the return leg of the preliminary round against Defence FC steps in for Wanga to combine with Jacob Keli upfront.
Leopards marched into the first round following a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory over Ethiopian side Defence FC while SuperSport edged out Botswana outfit Gaborone United 3-0 in the preliminary round to seal their progression.
Senegalese striker, Mame Niang, who scored all the goals against Gaborone United and was on target on Tuesday in the PSL is the danger man Leopards will hope to keep quiet to achieve what would be an unlikely away result.
Ingwe are placed 11th in the Kenyan Premier League after playing two matches while SuperSport are placed 3rd in the PSL with 32 points after from 20 matches.
The crunch will kick-off at 9:15pm local time.