It is that time again when every Tom, Harry and Carol makes a prediction about the results of the match.
It is not easy to get the form book as the Leopards are fielding an almost entirely new team but the record in the KPL opening fixtures hasn't been good. In the 2009 opening game, Leopards lost the match in the Board Room when it was awarded to City Stars on a 2-0 basis whilst in the 2010 opening game, Leopards lost 2-0 to KCB.
For this reason perhaps, Carol Radul thinks the opening match in 2011 will also be lost on a 2-0 basis.
Supersport.com on the other hand, also hand Leopards a loss though they credit Leopards with a goal.
Tusker v AFC Leopards (National Stadium, 5pm “live” on SuperSport 9)
Supersport.com Prediction: 2-1
Last season closed with Tusker drubbing Leopards 3-0. The Brewers would love a repeat. But it hurt Leopards so much that a dream start to the new season -- an upset win over Tusker -- would wipe away the pain.
It could happen. But maybe Leopards are embroiled in too many distractions and misadministration to be at their absolute best for such a big match.
A tame draw like the 0-0 one of last season’s first leg would have been possible. But Tusker coach, Sam Omollo, because he was brought in presumably for more success than James Nandwa last season, is compelled to produce results.
Like Omollo, Levy Muaka the new midfield man from City Stars will be under scrutiny over his high rating.
Do not, however, count Leopards out. The ball could bounce well, enough to repay the usually the hard work of Leopards men such as [Demonde] Selenga Mangili, Itubu Imbem and Joseph Okumu. And what will Brian Masiolo bring in from Western Stima?
The Brewers, nevertheless, have so much stability that you could only hope to catch them off guard on a bad day. Joseph Emeka, Victor Ali Abondo, Japhery Oyando, Noah Abich, Jockins Atudo, Fred Ajwang’, Joseph Shikokoti, Chris Pitsaw…such a familiar line-up.
The third prediction is from Kenyanstar and they hand Leopards a1-0 win.
Heads are set to roll on Sunday evening if by any chance Leopards players are to deliver their fans’ expectations. The leopards are tied up in a tough fixture against last season’s third place finishers Tusker FC and fans have made it clear that 0 points in the first match is not an option.
Leopards recent past with Tusker has not been very good with a goalless draw in the first leg of the 2010 season being the best result in the last four meetings. In 2009, the brewers sank the leopards home and away 3-1 and 4-1 respectively. In the second leg of the 2010 season, Leopards suffered a humiliating 4-2 defeat in the backyard of their new sponsors Mumius Sugar at the Mumias complex.
Tuskers habit of hunting from the leopards’ den further dents the relationship of the two sides. Some of its greatest players over the years have been poached from the den including Musa Otieno, Patrick Oboya, Collins Kisuya, Oscar Kadenge and very recently Dennis Mukaisi.
On the other hand, Leopard’s attempts to pull a quick one and bring home Paul Were from Ruaraka based Tusker went up in flames with Leopard’s former chairman Julius Ochiel blaming it wrangles that had bedevilled the team.
The Sunday encounter will be undoubtedly a battle of jumbo proportions with a win being top priority for every team. Tusker’s new Coach Sammy Omollo will be keen to prove to his employers that he is a worthy replacement of coach James Nandwa. And he won't do that by losing to a team that finished the league in 12th position.
For the men from the den, they have an uphill task of upholding the new found pride zeal and energy of their fans. If the preseason activities by the leopards fans is anything to go by then their team will never walk alone. The fans successfully managed to execute a tough schedule of a CSR, Player welfare fund raiser and have been relentlessly agitating for accountability in the club’s top leadership.
Tusker are likely to adopt an offensive play with Paul were and a former leopard Dennis mukaisi doing the damage upfront. Lifting the ball over the midfield and denying it the leopards should be their biggest strength.
The leopards seem to have joined Sofapaka and Mathare united as Kenya’s master of sleek passing free flowing football. A win in the midfield war could translate to a win for leopards. Experince of Captain Nicholas Muyoti will be expected to come handy against Tuskers’ heavy midfield. Liberian Ibraham Cockie and youngster Bernard Mang’oli are highly poised to deliver the killer passes.
Hit man Demonde selenge and Ingwe’s most expensive player this season Brian masiolo should not disappoint in front of goal.
Prediction: AFC Leopards 1-0 Tusker FC