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By JOHN ASHIHUNDU
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Coach Rodolfo Zapata is still targeting a top two finish by the end of the season and AFC Leopards’ leadership must begin to appreciate the importance of having a dedicated and up to standard training ground.

It is quite unfortunate that several key players are going to miss the remaining matches of the season due to injuries picked up in training.

Those who will be watching from the side lines are Robinson Kamura (ankle), Jaffery Owiti (knee), Dennis Sikhayi (ankle), Moses Mburu (knee), Jairus Adira (neck) and Vincent Oburu, who injured his shoulder in a road accident last week.

When we lost to Kariobangi Sharks in a midweek SportPesa Premier League clash in Machakos, some fans voiced discontentment with the performance.

What they did not fully understand was that Zapata missed the services of a majority of his regulars.

It would be easy to place the blame all at the coach’s feet, but the reality is that he is making do with a makeshift squad at best.

To those fans I say, you are faulting the wrong individual. The club management should bear all the burden for the situation we find ourselves in.

At our rivals, Gor Mahia, matters maybe worse as the playing unit are on a go-slow. Despite winning the title three weeks ago, K’Ogalo players are protesting over unpaid salaries and bonuses.

Dylan Kerr’s charges are only honouring matches.

The Ingwe office should make player welfare their top priority. This goes beyond paying their wages but also ensuring that the facilities they use for training are up to standard.

A technical bench official who requested anonymity revealed that the current training ground at St Paul’s University in Limuru is not ideal for training.

There are, reportedly, cracks on the pitch that make the ground ill-suited for the players. The three-hour journey to and fro is not conducive for the playing unit and coaching staff.

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It is imperative that a better practice facility is identified; one that has the potential to serve the team over a long time.

The injuries sustained by some of our regulars will keep them out for extended periods.

From playing for extended periods of time, some players have sustained some of the worst injuries ever witnessed at the club.

Some of our players have been perennially injury-hit and are no strangers to the club’s treatment table, forcing them to miss numerous matches.

A team of Leopards’ calibre needs a training centre with international standards playing surface, training grounds, players’ lounges, nutrition centre and fully-equipped gymnasium.

Generally speaking, such a facility with adequate security is a worthwhile investment for the club. It can be hired out to other teams, local and international, and earn extra income for the club.

Having a training ground in Nairobi will also allow Ingwe fans and the media to attend their team’s training sessions as is the norm in the world’s top leagues.

In the 1990s, then President Daniel arap Moi gave both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia land on which to build a club house and training ground.

The land was located near Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani but it has become a mirage as nobody seems to knows the exact location of both.

The two clubs appealed to Moi again years later and he gave them more land in Embakasi. Yet, none of the clubs took any step to develop the pieces of land, not even an attempt to fence them.

The most recent reports suggest that the land is occupied by squatters.



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