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AFC Leopards, Tusker begin Super Cup quest

Tusker FC players (L-R) Mike Khamati, Allan Wanga, Clifford Alwanga and Collins Shivachi during a past match in Nakuru. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – Thirteen time Kenyan Premier League champions AFC Leopards will seek to put a silver lining in their otherwise dark half of the 2017 season when they take to the pitch on Monday afternoon against Singida United in their Super Cup opener.

The tournament, sponsored by betting firm SportPesa brings together eight teams from Kenya and Tanzania with the eventual winner not only winning the Sh3mn in cash prize but also a chance to play English Premier League side Everton in a friendly match next month.

Kenya’s other representatives, Tusker FC, the reigning domestic league champions will take to the pitch in the late kick off at 4pm against Tanzanian giants Yanga.

Ingwe has had a tough start to the season and are current placed 12th on the standings with 15 points, 12 shy of leaders Gor Mahia. They have not won over the last seven matches.

New head coach Dorian Marin will be on the stands watching the team for the first time, and the players will be tasked with putting their best feet forward in what is set to be an audition infront of the new boss.

They will be without defender Robinson Kamura and midfielder Duncan Otieno who are with the national team Harambee Stars while midfielder Andrew Tololwa and striker Mungai Kiongera are nursing injuries.

AFC Leopards’ Andrew Tololwa goes up in the air to try head in a corner during their match against Sofapaka at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 26, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

A win against the newly promoted Singida will be a much needed morale booster and ease pressure on the side.

Tusker FC on the other end, will be on a relatively different platter. The defending champions have crawled back from a disastrous start to the season winning all their last seven games to move all the way to joint top on the log.

They however come up against the recently crowned Tanzanian champions who are however set to give playing time to most of their second string players.

“We are going there to do our best because it is a chance to play against a European team and the players are hugely motivated by this. All of them are working in training with that in mind. We will not be pushovers,” Tusker FC Chief Executive Officer Charles Obiny said.

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Meanwhile the sponsors have confirmed the tournament will be an annual festival with next year’s edition set to be held in Kenya.

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri says the company has been challenged to organize the tournament in a bid to grow the local game.

“For decades since the Gossage Cup started in 1926, Kenyan and Tanzanian teams have been involved in classic football battles which have excited  and captivated their supporters at home and across Africa. We realized the need to bring back the glorious days of Kenyan and Tanzanian football by launching this tournament,” he said.

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