NAIROBI, June 16- The rumoured mass exodus from cash-strapped Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants AFC Leopards has set in with top scorer, Jacob Keli and first choice keeper, Wycliffe Kasaya requesting release letters, Capital Sport has established.
According to assistant Secretary General, Prof. Asava Kadima, Keli who sunk in eight goals in the first leg and first-choice Kasaya wrote to the club asking to be cut loose from their contracts that expire in December adding Ingwe are in discussion with KPL secretariat to facilitate their exit.
“We have not released any player yet except Keli and Kasaya who have written to us requesting to be released due to financial problems that the club is facing. They indicated they would like to look for other clubs which we have no problem.
“We will have dialogue with those who want to leave and KPL to reach an agreement so that they can be released,” Kadima who among other elected National Executive Committee members rejected the newly constituted care-taker Committee declared.
The don further denied reports captain, Martin Imbalambala has been allowed to join Football Kenya Federation-Premier League side, Nakumatt FC throwing his future into confusion.
He maintained Zradvko Logarusic who travelled home to Croatia was still their head coach despite his apparent farewell message to the Leopard’s faithful on Facebook.
“We have not released Imbalambala, he is still our captain and we spoke to him and assured him we will take care of players’ welfare. Nakumatt have not approached us requesting his services, they have only called us on Kasaya whom they are interested.
“Logarisic is still with us but unfortunately, we did not get to talk to him when he left. We will discuss his plans ahead of the second leg because he is yet to achieve his objective.
“I thank him for persevering in an environment of turmoil as the club undergoes trying times,” Kadima stated.
Keli and Kasaya were among first team regulars who boycotted their final first round KPL clash against Sofapaka FC where Leopards beat all odds to prevail 1-0.
Irate fans did not take their ‘abandon ship’ kindly during the game and their decision to walk away will only fuel more bile against them from Ingwe faithful despite Keli taking to social media to apologise for the no-show the next day.
Want-away Kasaya and fellow keeper, Joel Bataro who fuelled speculation when he wrote “God help make da (the) right decision” on his Facebook wall could leave the club sold short in goal.
Ingwe are set to face minnows Ligi Ndogo in the GOtv Shield knockout this weekend and the squad unrest could leave them facing another dire situation akin to the Sofapaka game where they struggled to raise a squad.
“We are set to meet the playing and technical bench units to chart a way forward because our intention is to reclaim the GOtv Shield.
“Members have shown commitment in readiness to support the club financially because we want to make sure we remain in the top flight league,” the assistant secretary general asserted.
With the club owing its staff up to four-month salary and bonus arrears, the Prof. Kadima revealed they intend to reduce the monthly wage bill from Sh2.6m to Sh1.8m.
“Due to our financial constraints, we want to work with a minimum figure so we will be evaluating salary and bonus structures which we can afford before we get a sponsor.
“We will re-negotiate with players to agree on substantial amounts that we can work with even if it means reductions. We want also to cut the number from 28 to 23 so we will not add more players during the mid-season transfer period,” he explained.
Broke Leopards who are struggling financially since shirt sponsor Mumias Sugar ended the partnership will hold a fundraising that will be led by Vihiga County Governor, Moses Akaranga on Tuesday at a Nairobi Hotel.
“Lack of a sponsor should not be reason why we should not stay in the top flight. We are moving without a chairman, which puts us under pressure but we will soldier on because the club belongs to the members.
“I will be meeting with Alex Ole Magelo and Amir Walji together with their care-taker committee to resolve our differences. I would like to engage them, I know we are all wrong and right and I’m sure none of us has the solution apart from members,” Kadima outlined.
The club is expected to hold its Annual General Meeting June 30 where some of the problems ailing one of the oldest club in the country will be discussed.