AFC Leopards Chairman Dan Shikanda is optimistic the side will be going for the Kenyan Premier League title next season.
Speaking during the club’s AGM webinar on Sunday, the former Leopards player revealed that it is time for the KPL giants to roar again as confidence in the squad is renewed.
Shikanda admitted that Ingwe were left grappling with grave financial constraints after their main shirt sponsor, Sportpesa, opted to bolt out of Kenyan gaming market.
The betting firm cancelled all activities in Kenya after failing to agree with the Kenya Revenue Authority last year leaving the side which greatly relied on the company for financial assistance in a serious crunch now coupled with the effects of coronavirus pandemic.
“AFC Leopards looks to the future with renewed confidence after a difficult season that saw departure of a key sponsor and now the effects of Covid-19 pandemic,” Shikanda is quoted by The Standard.
However, with aid from different sources, Leopards have managed to wade through the difficult times until the untimely conclusion of the 2019/20 KPL campaign.
“We are encouraged by the fact that we have managed to ensure the club ran smoothly and met our league obligations. Going forward we need to up our game to compete favourably,” he said.
Earlier this month, AFC Leopards alongside the reigning KPL champions Gor Mahia signed a three year contract with a new Kenyan gaming firm, Betsafe whereby Leopards are set to pocket KSh 40 million annually.
Although the amount may not meet all obligations , Shikanda noted that the package comes as a confidence booster in matters partnership with other corporates.
“It may not be enough, but it is a sign of confidence by sponsors. We call upon more corporates to partner with AFC Leopards.”
The side is rumoured to be aiming to offload some of the players to create room for experienced ones next season for the same goal of winning titles.
It is believed Ingwe is Keen on raiding Zambian side Nkana for the services of two Kenyan internationals.
Defender Haron Shakava, formerly of Gor Mahia, and midfielder Duncan Otieno, old Leopards captain, may probably join the side in a bid to bolster the team for assignments ahead.
It is approximately 22 years since AFC Leopards won a top flight league. The 13-time KPL winners’ latest silverware came in 2017 when the side edged Kariobangi Sharks to lift the Gotv Shield Cup.
Shijanda said the former Cecafa champions will not go the Liverpool way, waiting for 30 years to lift a league crown.
“The team is intact as there are no departures so far. There are those whose contracts will be renewed and others let go when time comes. We will definitely have some arrivals to reinforce the team,” Shikanda said.
“Liverpool went for 30 years without an EPL title. We have gone for 22 years and we don’t want to go the Liverpool way. We are keen to build a team that will lift the KPL title sooner.”
AFC currently sits sixth in the yet to be concluded season under the guidance of their youthful coach Anthony Kimani who arguably has the same feeling as the club as chairman.