NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11 – AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall believes winning their first match of the season will be good omen as he looks to raise the team back to the top after a disastrous spell in 2016.
The Briton who took charge of Ingwe in October last year leads the side to their first match of the season against newly promoted Nakumatt FC on Sunday at the Thika Sub-County Stadium.
“It’s always important to start well because more often than not it sets the precedence for the season and for us that is what we want. We have waited for the season to start for a while with some anxiety of course, but now we are pretty much ready for the first game,” Hall said looking forward to the Nakumatt tie.
The two sides have met during the pre-season with Nakumatt winning 1-0, but Hall does not expect the same results to come off their first competitive meeting. He believes the tact employed in friendly matches, mostly used to build up team shape and cohesion will be entirely different from the ones employed on a competitive match day.
AFC will come up against a team that has up to six of their former players.
Their top scorer last season Kepha Aswani shipped out to the new boys after being deemed surplus to requirements and was followed out by Eugene Ambulwa, Cresten Mwanzo and Jack Bruno who is out on loan.
Timonah Wanyonyi and Obadiah Ndege, both former Ingwe players are now turning out for Nakumatt.
“It is always tricky when you play against your former players. They want to come out and prove a point and that is a factor in the game that we cannot ignore. Generally, Nakumatt is not an easy opponent also from what we saw playing against them earlier on,” Hall opined.
The tactician is a bit worried that tactically, his charges might not be as ready as he would love them to be and has partly blamed a disruption on his training program by the KPL All Stars team which had been preparing for a friendly match against Hull City.
“Fitness wise, we are okay; the attitude is great but tactically, we are behind. This week though we have tried to work on all the tactical areas and almost I can say we have caught up,” he added.
Hall will parade an almost entirely new team, having secured 12 new players into the team, most of who will be coming straight into the starting team.
Among the players raked in include the Mathare United duo of Whyvonne Isuza and Robinson Kamura, Dennis Sikhayi from Western Stima, Salim Abdallah and Duncan Otieno from Posta Rangers.
“I think we have put together a very strong team. I can’t say we are going to win the title or anything but what I know is that we will be very competitive. There is competition for places in the starting team and that is healthy,” Hall noted.