Remembering AFC Leopards last foray into CAF competitions

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FOOTBALL Remembering AFC Leopards last foray into CAF competitions

Festus Chuma 21:32 - 23.02.2024

Six years ago, AFC Leopards exited their last CAF Confederation Cup match marking a prolonged absence from continental competitions since then.

Six years have passed since AFC Leopards last graced the continental stage in the CAF Confederation Cup. 

The return leg of the 2017/2018 preliminary round against Madagascar's FOSA Junior remains etched in the memories of Ingwe's faithful. 

Despite entering the tie with high hopes, Leopards were halted at the very first hurdle, drawing a blank in Madagascar which saw them exit the competition on the away goals rule after a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg in Kakamega.

The face-off with FOSA Junior, a club then only three years into its existence and making its debut on the continental scene, was supposed to be a straightforward affair for the seasoned Leopards. 

Yet, the Malagasy outfit, fresh from their domestic cup triumph, showcased resilience and tactical acumen that belied their brief history. 

The first leg at Bukhungu Stadium saw early promise from the Kenyan side, with Yusuf Mainge breaking the deadlock in the 3rd minute. However, their joy was short-lived as Rado Mbolasoa equalized for the visitors, setting the stage for a tightly contested draw.

The encounter was a reflection of the unpredictable nature of football, where heritage and past glories offer no guarantees. 

FOSA Junior, despite their underdog status, matched AFC Leopards stride for stride, leaving the Kenyan powerhouse to rue missed opportunities and what-ifs. 

The introduction of Baker Lukooya and the relentless efforts of players like Duncan Otieno and Ezekiel Odera highlighted Ingwe's determination, but ultimately, their journey was cut short.

The years following that campaign have been a period of introspection and rebuilding for AFC Leopards.

 The club has struggled to recapture its domestic form, failing to clinch the FK Cup or the FKF Premier League title, prerequisites for continental qualification.

 This drought has not only been a source of frustration for the team and its supporters but also a catalyst for reflection on the direction and strategy of one of Kenya's most storied football institutions.

As AFC Leopards gear up for another shot at continental representation, starting with their upcoming match against PAC University, there is a palpable sense of anticipation and hope. 

The encounter, set to take place at Police Sacco Stadium, is more than just a game; it's the beginning of another quest for glory, an opportunity to forge new memories and, perhaps, to finally lay to rest the ghosts of past disappointments.

The road ahead for AFC Leopards is fraught with challenges, but it is also laden with potential. With a rich history behind them and a future to shape, Ingwe's journey back to the continental stage is not just about redemption; it is about reaffirming their place in the annals of African football

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