Ambitious Leopards eyeing CAF Champions League

AFC Leopards SC players celebrate Paul Kiongera's (L) goal against Thika United During their Sportpesa ...
AFC Leopards SC players celebrate Paul Kiongera's (L) goal against Thika United During their Sportpesa Premier League match at the Mumias Sports Complex on July 09, 2016. AFC Leopards SC won 4-0. Photo/Tabitha Otwori/

Domestic giants AFC Leopards have set themselves the ambitious target of reaching the lucrative CAF Champions League group stages next season.

For a club that last participated at the continental premier club football competition almost two decades ago, the impression of even securing qualification seems far-fetched but Chief Executive Officer(CEO) Ronald Namai believes their aim is within reach.

The 12-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions finished in an embarrassing 13th place last season but after a resounding 3-0 win over Nakumatt FC in their opener this term, Namai claims their 19 year for domestic honours will end in November.

Should Leopards break into the money stages of the elite continental club competition, the team can expect a minimum windfall of Ksh56m.

“We want to win the KPL this season, go to the CAF Champions League where we will put in effort to ensure that we shine in the preliminary matches and proceed as far as we can with the group stages being the minimum target,” Namai stated.

The last time Ingwe was involved in any major international competition was at the 2014 CAF Confederation Cup after winning the GOTv Shield the previous year.

They were however knocked out by South African Premier Soccer League side SuperSport United at the first hurdle.

They last won the domestic league in 1998 and subsequently qualified for the preliminary round of the Champions League where they crashed out 3-1 on aggregate at the hands of Rwandan titans Rayon Sports.

Kenya has not had a representative in the second round of African club football with Sofapaka the last side to stir hopes in 2011 where they sailed to the third round of the Confed Cup.

Four of the club’s players – Wyvonne Isuza,defender Robinson Kamura, striker Vincent Oburu and captain Bernard Mang’oli – were summoned by the national team’s First Coach Stanley Okumbi and Namai believes that is only an indication of the heights they scale under British Head Coach Stewart Hall.

During his unveiling in December last year,  Hall vowed to awaken the ‘sleeping giants’ and Namai has backed the former Azam FC tactician to take them to the promised land.

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Story By Godfrey Ashiali
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