Dan Shikanda scorecard: AFC Leopards have stability but no trophy means chairman has not delivered yet

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FOOTBALL Dan Shikanda scorecard: AFC Leopards have stability but no trophy means chairman has not delivered yet

Joel Omotto 07:41 - 24.05.2023
The Leopards boss is on course to end the first year of his second term in office but the club’s struggles on the pitch leave many questions than answers

Dan Shikanda is on course to completing the first year of his second term as AFC Leopards chairman, coming at a time when Ingwe are also set to end the season trophyless once again.

Leopards’ elimination from the FKF Cup by Kakamega Homeboyz last weekend means the wait goes on with their last piece of silverware coming in 2017 when they won the very competition.

Since then, they have flattered to deceive and the 2022-2023 campaign has not been any different. Given it is now five years since he took over, much that was expected has not been delivered with Ingwe among the pretenders and not contenders for the title since his first term that began in June 2019.

Another trophyless season

When he took over, Ingwe had just finished a disappointing 11th and were sixth by the time Covid-19 interrupted the 2019-20 campaign. They improved to fourth in 2020-21 but dropped to sixth again last season.

With four games remaining this season, they are seventh on 45 points, 11 behind fourth-placed Kenya Police and nine adrift of KCB in fifth, and it looks like fifth position is the best they can get, unless the aforementioned experience a big dropoff.

Granted, the club has been affected by a two-window transfer ban when it was impossible to sign new players and strengthen the team in the last year, Ingwe are a team that should be challenging for titles and not being happy finishing fifth or sixth.

They need not to look far than their eternal rivals Gor Mahia, who have won seven league titles in the last 10 years and could make it eight this season, while Ingwe’s last came in 1998.

Less than impressive reign

It, therefore, means Shikanda’s term has not bore fruit yet for Leopards and questions will be asked if they end up empty-handed again next season, given the transfer ban is now over and they will be allowed to sign new players from July.

“We have finished one of our four years and we have given the technical bench powers to decide who comes and who goes,” Shikanda told Pulse Sports of his achievements in office.

“They decided the youth players who will be in the team so we have brought some stability to the playing unit and technical bench which is the most important thing you can do in a football club.

“We have tried as much as possible to pay players, this time, we have not had setbacks of unpaid salaries. This year, we only have one month that is unpaid and I hope our players will appreciate that we have paid on time. Out of 12 months, 10 have been prompt payments.”

Stability in technical bench

The former Leopards and Gor attacker can, however, be credited for bringing some sort of stability to the Den with Patrick Aussems the fourth coach since he took over in 2019, having seen eight come in the four years that preceded his reign.

The Belgian is also the longest serving in the last 11 years as he is now entering his third season with the club. Shikanda seems to be wedded to Aussems’ philosophy and hinted at backing him to turn things around now that the transfer ban is out of the way.

“We have been using youthful players, now it is time for us to give him an opportunity to reap the fruits of the team he is building,” said Shikanda on Aussems.

“Let him also sign players and build a squad, he has brought up so many youngsters who were unknown before. By the time his contract ends, he would have brought in his players and we would have seen what he can do.”

Wrangle-free reign

A lot of Leopards’ problems down the years have also stemmed from wrangling within the club hierarchy, leading to instability within the team.

However, to his credit, Shikanda’s reign has largely been wrangle-free although the issue is threatening to rare its ugly head again following reports that the club’s Commercial Director has sought legal redress over failure to pay him a commission for negotiating the Ksh60 million shirt-sponsorship deal with betting firm Betika.

“Communication is key to telling people what is happening. There are too many rumours out here so when they come out, you make sure you counter them by people getting the correct information. Whatever brings wrangles is just lies and rumours which are wrong which end up dividing the executive and playing unit,” he said.