Kenya: Leopards Deserve Better Representation in Stars Squad

9 December 2019

Despite the good performance in the club this season, I couldn't understand why AFC Leopards players were left out of the 20-man Kenyan squad for 2019 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda.

Ingwe players were denied a chance by the former Harambee Stars coach Sebastien Migne during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals held in Egypt where we were bundled out in the group stages.

From 11 matches, AFC Leopards are currently in the ninth position on the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) table of standings, and with the current form, this big club deserved at least four slots in the Cecafa squad coached by Francis Kimanzi and Zedekiah "Zico" Otieno.

Under Marshall Mulwa, Harambee Stars won the regional trophy three times consecutively in 1981, 1982 and 1983 and Leopards was represented by captain Mahmoud Abbas, Josephat Murila, Wilberforce Mulamba, Joe Masiga, Washington Lidonde, Abdul Barasa, Noah Wanyama, Aggrey Lukoye, Haggai Mirikau (deceased) the late David Nate and Moses Okwaro.

History has proven that Harambee Stars has always performed well when it has majority of players from AFC Leopards and always unlucky when the squad is heavily populated with players not from AFC Leopards.

Ingwe under the late Ugandan tactician Robert Kiberu also dominated Cecafa Club Championship, winning the trophy in 1982, 1983 and 1984. The 1982 Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda came after the Kenyan top league had just ended and AFC Leopards had won for the third year consecutively.

Stars' magnificent performance during the championship was motivated by AFC Leopards success in the region with 1-0 win over Rio Tinto of Zimbabwe.

At the Den, we have young players including Clyde Senaji, Dennis Sikhayi, Collins Shichenje, Isaac Kipyegon, Hansel Ochieng, Austin Ochieng, Vincent Oburu and Collins Shivachi who can help the country during international assignments, but only Wyvonne Isuza has been considered for the Ugandan championship. Even our deadly striker John Mark Makwata who should be an automatic pick for the national team was ignored!

I know there are processes in place for selection to the national team, but I feel that Ingwe would be fairly represented with a total of three players in Uganda.

There is nothing wrong with Ingwe having at least three players in the squad because history has proven that our national team has always ride high with some influence from Ingwe players. We have not forgotten that John Nyawanga was the first Kenyan to captain the national team at the African Nations Cup finals in 1972.

Apart from Nyawanga, other great players donated to the national team by Ingwe were Charles Makunda, Francis Khiranga, Antony Mukabwa, Daniel Anyanzwa, Jonathan Niva, Livingston Madwgwa, David Asibwa, Arthur Okwemba, Senior Wamalwa and Ezekiah Ang'ana.

Coach Kimanzi has many more international assignments ahead including the 2020 Afcon and 2022 World Cup qualifiers and we shall be waiting for our slots in his team.

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