AFC Leopards advance to the Elijah Lidonde Cup final after a hard-fought victory over Mulembe United.
Reigning champions AFC Leopards secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Mulembe United in the Elijah Lidonde Cup propelling them into the final of the four-team tournament.
The thrilling match unfolded at Bukhungu Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
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As both teams took to the field, they were burdened by challenges in their respective leagues. AFC Leopards had only managed to clinch two victories in the first 16 games of the FKF Premier League, while Mulembe United had secured just four wins in the National Super League's opening 14 matches.
The decisive moment of the match unfolded in the second half when substitute Kevin Kimani, who had replaced the young talent Shawn Oloo, netted a crucial goal in the 77th minute against the NSL outfit.
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Despite financial struggles plaguing the club, AFC Leopards now find themselves in contention to retain the Elijah Lidonde Cup.
The winners of this prestigious tournament will walk away with a handsome reward of Ksh1 million, while the runners-up will not be left empty-handed, as they will receive Ksh500,000 – a significant financial boost for Ingwe during these challenging times.
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Reaching the final also carries symbolic importance for the club's image, as chairman Dan Shikanda currently holds the hot seat and bears the responsibility for the club's recent struggles.
However, it is worth noting that even before his tenure, AFC Leopards faced challenges on and off the pitch. Previous regimes have failed to establish sustainable structures for the club's long-term success, often resorting to frequent coaching changes whenever the team faced adversity.
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The result has been a staggering 16 coaching changes in the past 11 years, with the club seemingly caught in a cycle of crisis management.
Despite these challenges, AFC Leopards have displayed resilience and determination, reaching the final of the Elijah Lidonde Cup, and giving their fans hope for a brighter future.
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In the 2022 edition of the cup, AFC Leopards emerged victorious, prevailing 8-7 in a dramatic post-match penalty shootout against Nzoia Sugar at the same Bukhungu Stadium.
The tournament, held in honor of the late Elijah Lidonde, who captained both Abaluhya (AFC Leopards) and Harambee Stars from 1950 to 1961, continues to be a fitting tribute to a football legend.