"Ingwe should do more to be considered title contenders"
The Football legend-turned-politician was speaking during the launch of a new partnership between AFC Leopards Sacco and CIC Insurance.
In his words, Shikanda admitted that the club “is not in a position to win the league” in the upcoming 2018/19 Kenya Premier League season, which is sponsored by SportPesa - the primary shirt sponsor of AFC Leopards.
Shikanda, who spent five successful years with Ingwe and was part of the club’s last title-winning side in 1998, believes the team in 2018 is still far away from being considered title contenders.
Nevertheless, Shikanda poured cold water on suggestions that his former side could compete at the KPL summit this coming year. He insisted that “even if they sign Pep Guardiola or even Jurgen Klopp, they cannot clinch the title any time soon”.
Shikanda, who also played a starring role for current KPL champions Gor Mahia, believes several things need to improve for AFC Leopards to be in title contention once again.
Most importantly, Shikanda believes that the Leopards’ squad need to look at themselves in the mirror and do everything in their power to end Gor Mahia’s good run against Ingwe.
“It’s unfortunate that AFC Leopards can afford to lose four times in a row to Gor Mahia this kind of record “never happened during my playing time” said Shikanda.
In a somewhat scathing attack on the current crop of Leopards stars, Shikanda believes too many players in the team “are not playing for the badge” and only “play because they want to be paid”.
Whether it’s true that certain sections of the Leopards squad should be considered mercenaries remains to be seen.
The 2017/18 KPL campaign was certainly a turbulent one for Leopards supporters, with their team ending the season without a trophy and having fired three coaches in the course of the year.
Charismatic Argentine, Rodolfo Zapata, is the latest head coach in charge of the Leopards. He came with a good the reputation of a coach with an eye for talent, based on his three-year stint as head of the United States Youth Soccer Association.
Many of the players he recruited have since gone on to represent the US national side at numerous age levels. Zapata will hope he gets a fair crack at the whip, with a chance to mould something special with Kenya’s second most successful club.
One thing is for sure, the Leopards will not be able to blame poor facilities on a dismal 2018/19 KPL campaign. Their 30,000-seater Nyayo Stadium has undergone significant refurbishment since 2017 and is due to be transformed into a world-class football stadium by March 2019.
Zapata will be hoping that the new stadium will coincide with a title bid for his Leopards team.