Football Football

I’m not under any pressure from IMC- Minnaert

AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert (center) when he was being unveiled. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu
AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert (center) when he was being unveiled. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya May 20- AFC Leopards is like the Biblical tower of Babel, everyone pulling in their own direction and speaking in different languages.

Just when everyone thought the troubled ship had found safe waters with betting firm SportPesa sorting their financial woes, the ever-present internal wrangling within the club is beginning to crop up.

Sources close to Capital Sport suggest that head coach Ivan Minnaert has been frustrated by some officials in the club especially as far as recruitment of new players ahead of the June transfer window is concerned.

A section has been calling for his resignation especially after dropping 13 players ahead of the June transfer window and they are not whatsoever willing to support the tactician in his bid to bring in players of his liking to the den.

However, Minnaert is adamant he is not ready to quit Ingwe, instead saying he will focus to ensure the club finishes the first leg strongly.

“My task is great here at AFC Leopards, the project that we started a few months ago is little by little growing despite the results over the last few weeks. I don’t feel any pressure from the Interim Management Committee.

“We know what has happened during our last games but these issues will be resolved in the team,” Minnaert said as the team prepared to travel to Thika Sub-County for their 14th league match against hosts Thika United.

Leopards will be under pressure to perform at Thika having gone five matches without registering a win and Minnaert has called on the team to pull in one direction and help the team bridge the eight point gap between them and leaders Tusker FC.

AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match.
AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match/Raymond Makhaya

Thika, under the tutelage of former Leopards coach James Nandwa have endured a difficult start to the season and are currently placed third from bottom with only 11 points.

Despite having won only one of the last five matches, Nandwa remains optimistic his side can stem the tide and pick points against AFC, a side he expects to come out all guns blazing.

While Leopards struggle to get their house back in order, their arch rivals Gor Mahia will be seeking a fifth consecutive win when they confront a potentially explosive encounter, playing away to Mathare United at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.

Francis Kimanzi’s Mathare United have been in decent form this term, currently placed third on the standings on 27 points just one shy of leaders Tusker FC.

Not even a bleak history against K’Ogalo can intimidate an on form Mathare with Kimanzi eager to finish the first leg within the first three positions.

The experienced tactician will hope to steady his defense that has at times been found wanting especially with the prospect of facing two on form strikers in Jacques Tuyisenge and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo.

Mathare can move top of the table in case they pick maximum points against Gor but that will be determined by Tusker’s result against Sony Sugar.

Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi in training.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi in training.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The Sugar Millers have won three matches on the trot since the return of coach Salim Babu and are raring in decent form against a Tusker side that is equally grinding results.

Tusker’s Ugandan tactician Paul Nkata is cautious ahead of the tie and insists his side has to take Sony with all seriousness if they are to keep their top spot.

“Of course by the end of the first leg I want the team to remain on top so winning against Sony is a priority. I know they have regained their form and it will not be an easy match. My team is however well prepared, we played a friendly match in midweek and won big so that gives us extra confidence,” the tactician said.

Tusker has not won the league title since 2012 and Nkata is under immense pressure to ensure the title comes back to Ruaraka.

Weekend fixtures;

Saturday: Ushuru v Bandari, Tusker FC v Sony Sugar (Nyayo Stadium), Chemelil v Western Stima (Chemelil), Kakamega Homeboyz v Muhoroni (Mumias), Thika United v AFC Leopards (Thika Stadium), Sofapaka v Ulinzi Stars (Machakos Stadium)

Sunday: City Stars v Posta Rangers, Mathare United v Gor Mahia (Nyayo Stadium).