NAIROBI, September 9 –Cash-strapped domestic giants, AFC Leopards, skipper, Jackson Saleh believes the management circus revolving around the Den will not distract them from reclaiming the GOtv Shield.
Saleh, who is set to return to action on Saturday during their Sportpesa Premier League clash against Western Stima underscored they are now focused on securing a ticket to next season’s CAF Confederations Cup qualification by winning the Shield as arch rivals, Gor Mahia, are on the verge of retaining the league for a third season in a row.
The club will play the first of two league matches behind closed doors on Saturday under a cloud of uncertainty after the Ministry of Sports recognized the Mathew Opwora-led faction as the legal office bearers on Tuesday.
That prompted the resignation of interim chairman, Walter Onyino but his Secretary General; Professor Asava Kadima, intends to take legal action against their rivals for falsifying documents and bringing disrepute in the club.
Already the Opwora team has sued current office holders for being in power illegally with the matter pending at Nairobi’s Milimani Law Court.
But Saleh, one of the few players who remained in the team after mid season’s mass exodus, declared they are going for maximum points against his former club, Stima to avoid dropping off the Top 8.
“We have prepared well and our target is to beat Stima because they won the first leg and they are always a tough side. Despite problems we are undergoing, Saturday’s match is a must win because if we lose we will drop to ninth.
“We are eying Top 8 and GOtv and I’m sure we will win one or take both because the league is already gone with Gor,” Saleh who returns from a one-match suspension after collecting five yellow cards, stated.
Troubled Leopards, who have gone six matches without victory, open their KPL Top 8 campaign against defending champions Tusker FC in the highlight tie of the knockout competition’s quarter-finals pending the draw for the GOtv Shield.
With head coach, Zdravko Logarusic set to miss the match after travelling to his native Croatia, his assistant, Ezekiel Akwana was upbeat they will finish amongst the top five as the league enters its home stretch with five matches to go.
Against Stima, Leopards will be without goal keeper; Lucas Indeche who has a bacterial infection while winger, Timonah Wanyonyi is suffering from knee injury.
“The players are ready to tackle Saturday match with a difference. We had a crisis meeting with the players and they decided to give it their all against Stima. After that, we will try and see how to approach Sofapaka in our next match and then Tusker in Top 8. We take each match at a time.
“We will finish top five, that I can promise our fans because sincerely, Gor has won the league,” Akwana added.
Ingwe last won the GOtv Shield in 2013 in the season where they finished runner-ups to K’Ogalo who were crowned champions for the first time in 18 years.