AFC Leopards have enjoyed success over Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) over six previous meetings with the last one at City Stadium, the same venue as today holding precious memories for eccentric coach Robert Matano.
AFC Leopards appeared dead and buried on July 25 last year, trailing 3-1 up until the 73rd minute, the felines roused from slumber to claw back to a 4-3 victory— achieved with the last kick of the ball.
It was to be one of scintillating matches of the season as Demonde Selenga struck one of the fastest hat-tricks in local football and Nigerian Harry Gentle smashed home a free-kick to cap a memorable comeback.
After their 1-0 defeat to Western Stima last week Matano said the players have learnt their mistakes and are ready for the bankers’ challenge.
"The good thing about this team is its fighting spirit. We have always found ourselves in difficult situations, coming off a defeat, but we manage to bounce back," Matano said pointing at their victory over KCB last year and even a harder one against Gor Mahia way back in 1986 at the same venue.
Gor Mahia were leading 2-0 with ten minutes left via Sammy Onyango "Jogoo" and George "Nyangi" Odembo’s strikes, but Dan Musuku struck a brace and Patrick Shim hit the winner.
"That spirit lives on. And on Sunday we will apply ourselves until the final whistle," Matano said.
It is unlikely though it would be smooth sailing against Leonard Saleh’s men who were heartbroken in their 1-0 loss to Gor Mahia a week ago.
KCB, who had lost only once, 1-0 at Western Stima, before that game, were resolute, but cracked under intense Gor pressure as Tony Onyango slipped the ball wide to the right for the unmarked Solomon Nasio to unlock the banker’s vault.
Saleh said it is unlikely the same scenario would be replayed.
"It was a painful experience losing that game. We are mature enough now and we would not want a repetition of the same thing. I believe we have taken every precaution to approach this match with a positive mind," Saleh said.
KCB will be without grieving attacking midfielder Job Omuse, who lost a child.
Daniel Waweru, who scored against Leopards before hobbling off after a collision with goalkeeper Lawrence Webo in the defeat, is three months away from action following a knee operation since the injury.
- Matano for a win on his first match in charge
- Demonde for the hat trick
- Gentle for the winning cracker
Sunday the 25th of September 2010 goes down as one of the most memorable days in the recent History of AFC Leopards. Coach Robert Matano had just been crafted in to try and salvage the team following a streak of poor performances that led to ejection of Chris Makokha as the Coach. A confident KCB side was matano’s first assignment and fans demanded nothing but a win.
With just 17 minutes of the match played, Leopards were trailing by 2 goals courtesy of Michael Oyando and Ezekiel Odera(now playing for Gor-mahia). Leopards Captain of the day Demonde Selenge literally led from the front finding the back of the net in the 26th minute to keep leopards in the match. The underperforming leopard were however to go down 3-1 in the 64th minute through a Geoffrey Maina header.
Coach Matano who doesn’t take losses kindly threw all caution through the window and brought in three strikers Paul Odhiambo, Abdulrahman Shaban and Joseph Okumu a move that added more flare to his attack line.
The remarkable comeback started in the 72nd minute when then Captain Demonde selenge tapped in a cross from substitute Joseph Okumu to make it 3-2. Five minutes later, Selenge completed his heart trick slotting in a beautiful goal after a solo effort with a run from the midfield. Just when everyone seemed to have settled for a 3-3 draw, Leopards won a free kick in stoppage time close to 30 yards from goal. Defender Harry gentle stepped up to take the free kick. Against expectations of many a fans, he rammed in a screamer gifting leopards the 4th and winning goal of the match.
While Matano and Selenge are still part of the team, their counterpart in the 4-3 demolition of KCB Harry Gentle is no longer a player at AFC leopards. Facebook branch has invited Harry Gentle to the KCB match on Sunday and alongside other fans, are set to honor the trio for a win that marked a comeback in the fight against relegation.
The match Preview AFC Leopards vs KCB
AFC Leopards vs KCB
Sunday the 10th of April
City stadium, from 4pm
After losing Ezekiel Odera who was their top scorer last season, it was everyone’s guess that the bankers were going to struggle in front of goal but that was not to be as they have proved to be as lethal without Odera, with new signing Clifford Alwang’a proving to be a worthy replacement.
AFC Leopards on the other hand are a group of players with experience and a rich history oozing from their veins. Last season they had a bad season, also fighting to avoid relegation. But this season, they look a more determined side with their fans fully behind their backs.
Their new signings have also been an impact in the team with the results coming in favor of them. Nicholas Muyoti who moved from Sofapaka back to the club of his heydays was immediately handed the arm band and has proved to be inspirational at Ingwe’s backline.
Coached by result oriented Robert Matano the side has grown with each match they have played and will be a force to reckon with in the league.
Both of the teams have an almost similar pattern in their league games so far. Out of five games, both have won three and lost two, all their first and latest matches.
AFC Leopards began with a 2-0 loss at the hands of current leaders Tusker FC while KCB began with a 1-0 loss away to Western Stima in Bukhungu. Before losing by the same margin to Gor Mahia, they beat Bandari 4-1, Nairobi City stars 2-0 and Thika United 2-1 away in Thika. For AFC Leopards, they started their winning streak immediately after Robert Matano took charge, beating Rangers 3-1, Ulinzi stars and Karutiuri sports by a similar 1-0 margin.
Last weekend AFC had a bad outing at the Bukhungu stadium with their hosts totally out playing them. However their opponents KCB had a brighter game against Gor Mahia under the intimidating crowd and were only unlucky to lose.
In all their four meetings since 2009, Leopards has the upper hand with two wins while KCB has one, with the fourth being a draw. In 2009, the two played almost on a similar date they play this weekend. They played on the 11th of April and the tie went to a 1-1 draw.
This season they play on the 11th of April. Will it play out in the same way? In the second leg played on the 15th of August, Leopards won 3-1. In the 2010 season, the two met early in February on the 21st and KCB banked the Leopards 2-1. However, Leopards came clawing back winning the second leg 4-3.
Both teams have an almost similar mode of playing with all choosing to slow down with the ball and build from the back. The two teams have potentially raspy wingers who can torment the opponents’ defense at their own peril with immense pace.
However, the two also have their weak points. AFC Leopards’ defense can be their main undoing if they do not seal it well with their midfield. The defense led by Captain Nicholas Muyoti is very good on a one-on-one situation but can be quite frail on the counter due to pace. With the likes of Clifford Alwanga and Brian Osumba, the AFC defense has a lot to think about before the match.
For KCB their midfield is not the strongest and AFC Leopards will be looking to exploit them on that front and attack from the midfield. With speedy players like Demonde Selenga and those who can shoot from distance like Hugo Nzagu, the bankers might be in for a tough ride.
Probable line ups
Saleh is expected to field almost the Similar squad that faced Gor Mahia over the weekend. Kaleb Adola will be the most certain to start at goal with captain Joseph Kangata, Samwel Otieno, Joseph Apindi and Eugene Asike being deployed in defense. In midfield, Saleh Is expected to start Geoffrey Maina in place of Job Enderiseh who will be out on a compassionate off after losing his child. Maina will partner with Paul Mungai at the centre of the pack with Luke Ochieng and Michael Oyando being pulled wide. Clifford Alwang’a will lead the hunt for goals alongside Benjamin Chaka.
Barnabas Tiema will most definitely start in goal. Douglas Okumu, Nicholas Muyoti, John Amboko and Edgar waudo are the four most likely to be trusted in defense. Having turned the game around at Bukhungu, Martin Imbalambala’s role in midfield could be extended in the KCB match. Coach Matano will also hope that Salim Khamis Kinje fresh from injury will make it for the match on Sunday. Other suspects in midfield would be Liberian import Abraham Cockie and Congolese Demonde Selenge. Itubu Imbem will lead the striking alongside impressive Hugo Nzangu.