NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Struggling giants AFC Leopards have dipped in early into the transfer market, bringing in two international players to bolster their ranks ahead of a do-or-die second leg having performed below expectation in the opening 13 games of the season.
Ugandan international Keziron Kizito has penned a two year deal, with the midfielder joining Burundian forward Alex Kitenge into the den, the latter having put pen to paper last week.
“We want to do things early so that during the break they (new players) can at least have ample time to train with the rest of the team during this mid-season break. Of course as the management we are not pleased with the results of the first leg and we hope to see an improvement,” AFC Leopards chairman Dan Mule told Capital Sport.
Ingwe suffered their fourth loss in five games over the weekend when they went down 0-1 away to Tusker FC at the Kinoru Stadium in Meru, condemning them to a 12th spot dip on the Kenyan Premier League standings.
The Tusker game was the final assignment for head coach Stewart Hall who had expressed interest of leaving, barely eight months after he joined the 13-time champions. Leopards have already started to shop for replacements with Romanian Dorin Marin highly touted to replace him.
“Hall told us verbally that he is leaving. We are only waiting for a written resignation but we have already started to look for replacements. There are both local and foreign options we have,” Mule added.
Mule says the team will not drop any players having started the season with only 24 players. “We intend to add four more experienced players to the team so that we have a manageable total number of 28 players in the team,” added the chair.
Ingwe started the season with promise, winning four of their opening six matches before going on a slump.
Meanwhile, it is not all rosy next door for their arch rivals Gor Mahia who despite dropping two points for the second consecutive time remained top of the table. Head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira was subjected to a hostile environment in their Sunday evening 1-1 draw with Posta Rangers.
Fans chanted ‘Ze Maria must go’ as the game progressed and the Brazilian tactician quickly snaked away into the dressing room immediately after the final whistle.
K’Ogalo are on 27 points, same as defending champions Tusker FC who moved to second courtesy of their 1-0 win over Leopards.
The 15-time champions are facing an uphill task of reclaiming their title, but skipper Musa Mohammed believes they are still up to task.
“It is not easy; there are tough matches we have to face and Posta’s was one of them. We still believe with the hard work we can manage to reclaim the title,” Mohammed said.
He added; “We understand the fans’ frustrations but as players we don’t want that pressure to get to us. The moment we allow it in then it will make it difficult for us to play well.”
Gor go into the mid-season break separated from the defending champions by just a point. Tusker picked up their seventh consecutive victory, putting behind a disastrous spell at the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, 2008 champions Mathare United continued with their struggles, picking up a fifth consecutive loss with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Nakumatt, a result that dipped them to bottom of the table.
Francis Kimanzi admits he will have to rebuff the squad with a few experienced players in the June transfer window that opens midnight Wednesday, conceding the young guns might not be able to handle the pressure that comes with a fiery second leg.
Meanwhile, Western Stima picked up a 1-1 draw with Kariobangi Sharks a point that moved them above Mathare, but still remained in the red zone.
KPL Weekend results
Saturday: Bandari 0 Kakamega Homeboyz 0 (Mbaraki Complex), Chemelil Sugar 2 Ulinzi Stars 1 (Chemelil), Nzoia United 1 Sofapaka 1 (Sudi Stadium), Thika United 1 Muhoroni Youth 1 (Thika Sub County Stadium).
Sunday: Nakumatt 2 Mathare United 1 (Ruaraka Complex), Posta Rangers 1 Gor Mahia 1 (Nyayo Stadium), Tusker FC 1 AFC Leopards 0 (Kinoru Stadium, Meru), Western Stima 1 Kariobangi Sharks 1 (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Zoo Kericho 1 Sony Sugar 1 (Kericho Stadium).