By Fredrick Nadulli aka Razor,
When Kenya club AFC Leopards boarded the plane to represent the country in the Nile Basin tournament in Sudan,not many gave them much of a chance.Pundits did not know what to make of the team.Their tottering league form led many to believe that they were merely going to Khartoum to make up the numbers.That they would be back as fast as they left.
Well this assumption was wrong.
They have confounded critics,not least themselves,by making it to the semis.Perhaps going to Sudan was a welcome distraction for the struggling giants,but the fact that they are brushing aside their regional opponents with a new man in charge strongly underlines their burning desire to reclaim their battered respect.
When they left the country they were languishing in the lower reaches of the league,groping for form and having just unveiled Pieter de Jongh as their new head coach.The Dutchman could not have asked for a better time.Leopards fans are a difficult lot to please.The team flew away,far from the prying eyes of their demanding faithful and pitched camp.
In the group stages they went past Etincelles of Rwanda,Mbeya of Tanzania and Academie Tchite from Burundi.
In the quarters they were up against Defence of Ethiopia.The Kenyans scraped through 3-2.
Now Academie Tchite lie in wait in the semis,a team they beat earlier.In hindsight they are now only possibly 180 minutes away from glory.It remains to be seen whether they will replicate their current rich vein of form in the local league,but its refreshing to see the team reinvent itself.
They need to cross the Nile Basin bridge before they can turn their focus on the TPL.
One thing is for sure though;they have renewed vigour and victory in Khartoum will give them renewed hope and confidence,things that have eluded them for a while now.