James Magayi @magayijim
Twelve-time champions AFC Leopards play debutants Wazito FC in a rescheduled Kenyan Premier League (KPL) fixture at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos today. The tie holds great significance for resurgent Ingwe as they play catch up with leaders Gor Mahia who have laid a six-point buffer at the top.
Victory for Leopards will cut K’Ogalo’s lead to three points and strengthen Ingwe’s resolve to end their 20-year title drought. The fixture also provides an extended platform for interim coach Dennis Kitambi’s audition for suspended Robert Matano’s job.
Kitambi has so far impressed the Ingwe fraternity by guiding the club to two victories in the league and could permanently succeed the fiery coach who was asked to step aside over indiscipline and poor performance.
Forwards Ezekiel Odera and Marvin Omondi have scored five goals between them for Leopards in the league and were on the mark last weekend against Mathare United, a match Ingwe edged out a seven-goal thriller to win 4-3. The duo is expected to lead the lines for Kitambi whose two-match reign has yielded six goals for Ingwe.
Odera lost his mother last week but has remained with the squad and expects to be picked as he bids to increase his goal-count. “He’s an exceptional player, very talented and ready to give his best to the team even during this difficult moment.
His grief has united the entire squad and we want to do well and try to console him with a good result,” Kitambi said after last weekend’s thriller in Machakos that propped Leopards as the third highest scorers in the league with 10 goals from five matches.
Stakes are equally high for Wazito in this fixture as coach Frank Ouna’s mettle in the top flight comes under closer scrutiny having won just once since leading the club to promotion. Fate handed Wazito their sole league victory when Joseph Omweri deflected Eric Odhiambo’s shot into his own net during the first 2018 KPL tie against Sony Sugar.
The debutants have since registered two goalless draws with Posta Rangers and Kakamega Homeboyz in between loses to Kariobangi Sharks and Bandari.