NAIROBI, August 11- AFC Leopards have been the Den of mystery this season with the fate of Croat head coach, Zradvko Logarusic, the latest pillar of confusion in the cash-strapped SportPesa Premier League giants.
The flamboyant ‘Loga’ or ‘Luhyarusic’ as he was baptised when he landed with fanfare to take charge has not led the team since their loss to Sony Sugar on May 27 in Awendo when he refused to travel with the team.
Assistants Yusuf Chippo and former Sofapaka FC boss, Ezekiel Akwana, have led the club since drawing 1-1 with Bandari before their humiliating 2-1 defeat to bottom side All Stars in Nakuru last weekend.
Speaking to Capital Sport on Tuesday, interim chairman, Walter Onyino denied reports Logarusic had been locked out of the Den saying he was free to return to the helm of the club.
“I don’t know where the reports came from. We sat as the NEC and gave him time to make up his mind. We offered him part of what we owe him as we look for money to clear not only his but also the balance of the players as well.
“He understands the bad situation we are in at the moment and we have not issued any statement I’m aware of he has left the team. As far as I’m concerned, he is still our head coach.
“We are looking for a permanent solution to the payment issue for all, including the coach soon but I can’t give a time frame when we shall do so,” Onyino, who took over until after the end of the season when elections for a new National Executive Committee (NEC) are said to take place, explained.
On Wednesday, fifth-placed Leopards face another daunting test when they face 2010 champions, Ulinzi Stars who are preparing to depart for the East Africa Military Games that start in Uganda on Saturday with the Logarusic riddle still clouded in uncertainty.
Reputable SuperSport.com reported Tuesday “The return to the Den of coach Zradvko Logarusic looks unlikely after AFC Leopards’ NEC members failed to agree on the fate of the tactician whom some accuse of deserting the club in its time of need.”
According to the piece, Logarusic was given part payment, a fact alluded by Onyino but that was not enough to convince him to return to the helm of the bench.
“When he was paid the Ksh 200,000 some officials demanded to know why it was only him being paid and not the other coaches and brought bad blood in the technical bench that is why it will be hard to have Logarusic back in the team as the majority of the NEC members are against it and have given coach Chipo and Akwana the mandate to coach the team,” a source told SuperSport.com.
Speaking to Capital Sport, another insider claimed the club recent insipid performances were due to a divided NEC and sabotage among the playing unit triggered by forces within and outside the club as the cold war to take over management of the famous club gathers steam ahead of the elections.
“Things are bad in the club. They way they played in Nakuru, no spirit or effort at all. Some people have got to the minds of the players and problems are coming from all sides.
“It’s difficult for us to raise funds since we are almost finishing the season and most sponsors want to be there at the beginning. Some in the NEC are discouraging injection of personal finances to the team,” our source elaborated.
Despite being held at ransom by the Croat coach who is a fan favourite, Leopards are sceptical of openly declaring they have sacked him for what amounts to desertion due to the risk of being forced to pay hefty sums to honour the duration of the contract.
“We met him and fully understand his complains but until the situation improves, he has to bear with it like all of us,” Onyino added.
After the haphazard sacking of Dutch head coach Hendrik Pieter de Jongh at the end of last season, Ingwe were slapped with a huge bill that has seen their share of broadcast deal monies from SuperSport go towards offsetting the amount as failure to honour their part of the contract with the KNVB trained tactician.