Bring on Gor, Leopards declare


JUMA-OKOTANAIROBI, Kenya, June 5 – Dutch head coach, Hendrik Pieter de Jongh believes a win in Sunday’s KPL Mashemeji derby against arch rivals Gor Mahia, will inspire the side to erase the disappointment of losing the Cecafa Nile Basin Cup final.

This comes after the club petitioned the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) to defer the match to allow Ingwe recharge their batteries from a gruelling run of fixtures at the inaugural regional event that pools domestic cup winners from Cecafa affiliates.

He was speaking to Capital Sport on Thursday when the team touched down at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Sudan where they lost 2-1 at the final hurdle at the hands of Uganda’s SC Victoria University.

The team was warmly received by Isukuti drums as fans decked in their blue and white stripes jerseys camping at the busy airport as early as 6 am before they were later on hosted to a breakfast by Secretary General George Aladwa who rewarded them with Sh300,000 (USD 3, 426,615).

“The tournament was good since we learnt a lot on our weakness and strength although we did not come home with the trophy. We were the better side in the entire tournament but we lost it in the final, that’s how football is since the match had to have a winner.

“Victoria were a good side especially in the first half but in the second period we changed formation but we were unlucky since the opponents scored in injury time to win the competition,” De Jongh observed.

Speedy winger Paul Were said they lost to a better side and suffered the absence of forward Noah Wafula and midfielder Bernard Mang’oli who were sent off in their semi-final clash against Burundi’s Academie Tchite during the tense decider.

“We had a nice outing and I never expected something like this to happen but I thank our fans who rallied behind us al through the tournament.

“We worked as a team and that’s why we reached the final although it was not that easy because we missed our two key players who received red cards but I thank all the players for their commitment.

“We played well since we did not have a good run in the league but we proved to our supporters in Cecafa and thank God we finished second though we wanted to lift the trophy,” Were who was the stand-in captain in the two weeks long regional tournament stated.

Focus on derby

Ingwe who were in high spirits, were upbeat ahead of their Mashemeji derby, the first this season despite Aladwa writing to KPL and FKF, requesting to have the game postponed to give Leopards ample time to prepare.

“The players have been playing away in Sudan for the last two weeks and they have arrived this morning, they need a rest. We have sent a letter to both football bodies to at least postpone the match for as to prepare adequately.

“We are playing against Gor who are our rivals and not any other club so they should give us at least one week,” Aladwa told Capital Sport.

De Jongh however, declared he will give priority to players who show quality in training as he looks forward to select the strongest squad.

“Players should prove themselves in training to be selected to the starting lineup because there is no one big or small.

“We are set to go to camp from tomorrow to prepare for this big game although I have little knowledge about Gor after following them in the internet. This is a derby I don’t expect it to be easy but we will make a strong line up and 90 minutes plus hard fighting will give us maximum points,” the Dutchman who will be on the touchline for the first time in a KPL match underscored.

On his part Were said, “The derby will be a challenge to us because we have had a poor run in the league but we will give our all since our fans expects more from us.

“We hope to carry on our good run from Sudan in the match since the tournament brought us together and we are more committed. I believe we will give our best and I’m 100 percent sure we will win,” Were said.

Leopards are 12th on the log with 11 points but with a game at hand while defending champions Gor are perched at the summit with 29 points.