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Expect different AFC Leopards team, warns Hall

AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall chats with players Andrew Tololwa, Bernard Mang’oli and Mungai Kiongera during a friendly match against Kariobangi Sharks at the Kasarani Stadium on February 5, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – AFC Leopards head coach Stewart John Hall has promised the 13-time Kenyan Premier League champions will be hugely competitive this season and will challenge for titles compared to their performance over the last three years.

Hall who took over reins at the club towards the end of last season has introduced a raft of changes as the Leopards seek to find their spots back.

“We play good football; we try to compete as well so we should expect a better side this season. We have a good squad and we will win games,” the former Azam FC and Sofapaka tactician told Capital Sport after seeing his side lose 3-2 to Kariobangi Sharks in a friendly match on Sunday.

The tactician rued three errors which led to Sharks scoring and he says the hard work now begins to polish up the weak areas with the new season around the horizon. Hall is confident his new regime and different approach will work wonders for Ingwe.

Not only has the Englishman sought for a new training ground after expressing displeasure with their previous base in Karen, he is also seeking to effect a new playing style, looking to employ a 3-5-2 formation.

Two new signings Robinson Kamura and Salim ‘Shittu’ Abdallah will be expected to slot in between Yakubu Ramadhan with two other new players in Marcus Abwao and Dennis Sikhayi employed as wing backs on the left and right side respectively.

“I believe that can work very well for us because we have the players who can do play perfectly well in the system. The three centre backs have really played well and I am very confident they will maintain the same,” Hall offered.

AFC Leopards celebrate Salim Abdallah’s goal during a friendly match against Kariobangi Sharks at the Kasarani Stadium on February 5, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

However, the tactician has conceded that the squad hasn’t gelled perfectly together as they were unable to land all their transfer targets before the start of their pre-season campaign.

“We haven’t gelled a lot because we signed most of the new players late and then we lost five of our squad members to the KPL camp. We have not had time to work well together as a team and now, we must really work hard,” Hall said.

He added; “In terms of fitness we are at 90 percent but in terms of organization, we are only 60 percent ready since we haven’t had the squad together for long.”

Meanwhile, 2011 KPL player of the year Kevin Kimani who was a deadline day acquisition by the Leopards says he is pleased to come back to the Premier League after a difficult year which saw him miss in action.

Having left Tusker at the end of the 2015 season, Kimani joined South African side Jomo Cosmos at the beginning of last year, but he left the club barely after two months after his contract was unceremoniously cancelled.

He now hopes he can get back to his best.

“It feels great to be back home after a difficult year and hopefully I can work hard enough to get back to form. There’s a lot of work required of me, but I am up to the challenge. I just want to focus on my football and see what I can do to help the team,” Kimani told Capital Sport.

Leopards will have another friendly match on Wednesday against national Super League side Wazito FC. They are scheduled to kick off their 2017 campaign against newly promoted side Nzoia United, though that might change pending the turf wars between KPL and FKF.