AFC Leopards’ new coach reveals nightmare scenario that makes it impossible for him to set targets for next season

AFC Leopards’ new coach reveals nightmare scenario that makes it impossible for him to set targets for next season

Joel Omotto 10:00 - 26.07.2023

Tom Juma was confirmed as Ingwe’s new tactician but he does not think the club will survive in the FKF Premier League in 2023-24 under current circumstances

Newly-appointed AFC Leopards coach Tom Juma does not feel the club will be able to compete in the Football Kenya Federation next season if their transfer ban is not lifted.

Leopards have been under a transfer ban since last year when FIFA slapped them with a two-window sanction over non-payment of dues owed to former player Soter Kayumba and any hopes of an end to that went up in smoke following last week’s revelation that they owe former coach Patrick Aussems over Ksh20 million which will have to be paid before their ban is lifted.

It is a scenario that is giving Juma sleepless nights as he has a lean and young squad which badly needs strengthening and there is still no clarity on whether the issue will be sorted, one month before the new season begins.

“If you look at last season, we lacked depth, especially towards the end when fixtures became congested, injuries and fatigue arrived and that is how we lost our season. It is, therefore, important to strengthen so that we are able to compete from the beginning to the end,” Juma told Pulse Sports.

“It would be one of the worst scenarios (if not allowed to sign), we don’t want to even imagine because as we speak, we have like four players on long-term injuries and we had a very lean squad last season.

“We have already lost Ojo Olaniyi who has gone back to Nigeria, we have players like Saad Musa, Owen Mboya, Levis Opiyo and Victor Omune with injuries that will keep them out for at least five months. These were key players last season so if we’re not allowed to sign it’s a nightmare.”

Due to Leopards’ precarious situation, Juma is not even setting any targets for the 2023-24 campaign, saying everything hinges on whether new players arrive or not.

“Our target will depend on the next one or two weeks. If we are not allowed to sign, I will be lying if I said we are going for the league. It will be difficult to survive in the league without new signings,” he added.

“But if we’re allowed to sign, then we would have put the team in a way that it can compete for the league or at least the FKF Cup. For teams like Leopards and Gor Mahia, any season that goes without a trophy is deemed a failure.

“For Leopards, it has been almost 30 years since they won the league so they want the title badly. We’re hoping to get the players in but if not, then it will be a nightmare season.”

Juma served as Aussems’ assistant during the Belgian tactician’s two-and-a-half year stint at Ingwe before he left the club on July 10 and he does not believe a change in philosophy will be helpful to the team.

“Generally, our philosophy is the same as Patrick’s, we just want a continuation of what we already had before because you cannot come in at this time and you want to change things,” he said.

“If there are any changes, then we have to do it in phases because it takes time but Patrick and I shared a lot as coaches so I think it is the reason I am been given the job to try and continue with what he had started.”

Leopards, who last won the league in 1998, extended their trophy less spell to six years last season when they finished a disappointing seventh on the lo, having endured inconsistencies that were blamed on their limited options and inexperience.