In Allan Wanga AFC Leopards had a player, now they have an ambassador

In the content page leading to the first chapter of his biography ‘Striking it high’, Allan Wanga has at number 9- ‘Finally Home’ one that covers three pages in the actual read and marks the end of a book describing his journey as a footballer.

Gilbert Wandera tries telling the story of a resilient footballer trying to pursue his dreams, however he fails to tell us this story just doesn’t end at ‘Finally Home’, actually the realization of the same is what this blog addresses today.

Yesterday, Allan signed a one year deal that will see him ply his trade at Sudanese giants Al-Merrikh SC.

For a man who’s played his football from as low as Spectre International’s Lolwe FC all the way to Azerbaijan and back to the Kenyan League it can be said every single day in football has brought with it lots of challenges and plenty of satisfaction.

Allan Wanga playing for AFC Leopards

Allan Wanga playing for AFC Leopards

When Wanga got back to the Kenya Premier League, the question was “would it jeopardize his chances of going back to a better team?”

His time at Sofapaka was short lived, so short some of you wouldn’t remember ever seeing him in a ‘Batoto Ba Mungu’ jersey; however AFC Leopards was where he was to make a base.

In all my time watching AFC Leopards, I thought so many players came so close to defining what playing for AFC Leopards really was. From the start, he didn’t look like one; however he gradually grew into the jersey, wore the face of it and acted like it. It was like every dropped point weighed down on his shoulders, every single miss described his effort and every victory- had his sweat and those of his team mates drowning it away.

He might have never been the perfect expression of the above, however in a bid to have an identity; AFC Leopards had one man to thank for leading the pack.

Over the last two years, coaches have similarly come and gone, in some cases even the office changed but it’s been impossible to imagine Wanga without a football, running down the middle after successful through pass, sometimes rounding the keeper, in some instances picking a side and powerfully sending a shot.

The most interesting part of his memoirs relate to his rapport with coaches and team mates. It was therefore not surprising when as captain he led his side to a 2013 GOtv Shield win against the mighty Gor Mahia. It’s like every coach sought his advice and always wanted him on their side, that way, the whole locker room was closer to a manager’s belief’s and wants than further away from it.

This weekend, Allan Wanga has a farewell party in the shape of the grandest game in Kenyan Football- a Nairobi Derby.

How fitting would it be that a fixture that has in the past built Allan and his team mates and at other times destroyed this great club mark his parting?

Wanga nevertheless would love to leave on a high, a captain’s arm band would certainly crown the moment he walks his team onto the pitch; everything would come to a standstill, a great servant would then be rightfully so applauded by the fans- those who love him and those who love him not so much.

Before Allan’s biography is revised yet, a few more years dazzling Sudan and possibly even Europe again is still on the cards. A befitting home awaits him in AFC Leopards should he wish to return, however should he not- his fingerprints on the GOtv Shield (the only piece of silverware he won at AFC Leopards) will remain as a constant reminder for our kids and their generations of what a talent AFC Leopards had.

allan

For those who will never get lucky enough to see the fingerprints, history will never be erased. A footballer was once here, he touched us, now he spreads the gospel of our football beyond our borders, an ambassador in his own right.

The GOtv Shield Notebook- Semi Finals 2013 Preview;

32 teams started this journey; today only 4 are still in contention for a place on the podium when the finals are played on 16th November 2013. Not surprising at all is the fact that amongst them, past three winners (20 titles shared amongst them) will have a chance to go one better while for Sony Sugar Fc, it’s a roller coaster- battle for survival in the league and a battle for their first ever GOtv Shield title.

So as the race to the Kshs 2Million jackpot hots up and nears conclusion- here is a slight heads up, fix and little history as the 180 minutes of semi-final action begins;GOTVShiled1_3

 

Gor Mahia v Sony Sugar Fc

Why you need to watch; No better set up would have been needed to pre-hype this tie as the perfect payback. Intertwined with recent history and an unsolved dispute one that threatens to crush the dream of Sony Sugar from staying up (in the league) and one that on the other hand (not so) puts to jeopardy the near realisation of a 13th KPL title for Gor Mahia, one would argue; for a Saturday- the perfect treat begins at 4PM at the MISC Kasarani.

Gor Mahia having scored 10 goals alone in this competition face a side that have got 2 goals (spread over two matches) and a 4-2 penalty win over Mathare United in the quarters.

You always expect Gor Mahia to in their current form to run over Sony Sugar Fc, but the Cup games always seem to have something different. Having seen off Tusker FC and Mathare in the two previous stages- Sony Sugar come to this level of the competition with a little bit of confidence. Gor Mahia seeing off Thika and Western Stima, and always finishing the business in record normal time, would be confident to see off this again- in the 90.

What it will mean; For Sony Sugar the feeling of winning this match might be compared to that of a drowning man- clutching on to just any straw- should they eventually lose the relegation battle. It’s not just a chance for the 2 Million; it would be history repeating itself for Sony Coach Zedekiah Otieno, second time in the final of this competition and first time as coach for Sony Sugar he’s been to a final. A loss (playing devil’s advocate) would be among the final falling nails of a sinking ship but which still buys the sailors some time to save it.

For Gor Mahia, a double within their reach would more than ever be so near with a win on Saturday. 3 finals in a raw a record they would share with the 1986, 1987, 1988 crop.

Players To Watch; Mr Cup Specialist Ivo Mapunda for me would be on player to watch- after his heroics last year in the same tourney denying Sofapaka another final win, the Tanzanian doesn’t seem to ever get tired of playing this cup- it’s not just the saves when the penalties come, he’s done well in this tourney keeping clean sheets against Thika and Western Stima.

His opposite number Mr Kasaya, an ex Gor Mahia player always seems to come to the party against Gor Mahia. The burning feeling of rage whenever he concedes against Gor Mahia should bolster his confidence while his heroics against Mathare saving Wendo’s (ex Tusker Fc) kick in the 4-2 penalty shootout- builds up for an exciting close should the match go to penalties.

GOtv trophy

Sofapaka v AFC Leopards

Why you need to Watch; What do you get when you have two teams each struggling to save it’s season, each with a new head coach(one on interim basis) struggling to impress and currently on good runs?; Perfect combination for an explosive Sunday afternoon of football. Both ex winners of this competition- a Final place for AFC leopards would set up another Nairobi Derby should Gor Mahia win the other tie or a repeat of the last two year’s finals should Sofapaka win and Gor Mahia win.

Having lost to the same team twice in the last two editions of the finals, Sofapaka would go all out seeking for a third bite of the cherry. AFC Leopards coach Nandwa’s last stint at a Premier league side ended in relegation- would this be the perfect stage to announce his return with a final berth and a possible Final win?

For all the investments these two sides have ploughed into their playing units, you would surely expect the fans not to demand for the best from the sides. Sofapaka ended the beautiful run of Finalys at the Quarter Final stages anchored on a Baraza strike- it will be exciting to see, where the inspiration will come from this time round having in mind they needed a Situma goal to knock out City Stars out of the competition in the second round.

AFC leopards on a 5 matches unbeaten run would give her fans another moment to savour as a 6th consecutive would not only be a record unbeaten game but also a chance to feature in the continentals- an experience they last enjoyed in 2010.

What it will mean;

Sofapaka- Third final in a row in the same competition should they win. A loss would mean they only have the KPL title to chase- and the only silverware in their cabinet; The Kenya Power Charity Cup.

AFC Leopards; A win would be everything the fans pray for at this moment, a loss would deflate their spirits but would mark the beginning of their rebuilding process after a long and torrid season.

Players to Watch;

Allan Wanga; wouldn’t find better words to use when introducing him but one thing for sure- he seems to be getting his grove back. Soafapaka are a side that appear sound defensively and AFC leopards should depend on him to unlock it.

John Baraza- Seems to be the saviour right now for Sofapaka. Called upon to score when Sofapaka faced Finlays, will he be the one to end this good AFC Leopards run?

 

Fixtures

Gor Mahia v Sony- Saturday 19th October 2013, MISC Kasarani. 4PM

Sofapaka v AFC Leopards- Sunday 20th October 2013, MISC Kasarani. 4PM