As the saying goes, figures don’t lie. Statistics show that since their arrival in the mid-season transfer window, the combination of winger Paul Were and utility David “Cheche” Ochieng have raised Ingwe’s goal tally and significantly lowered the number of goals conceded.
Operating from his favourite wide position, the diminutive Were, who joined Ingwe from Greece, has accounted for three goals, and they could have been more had fate not conspired to award Leopards a walkover against Nzoia Sugar.
Because as sure as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, Were was going to create an assist or two and certainly score himself.
Ochieng on the other hand has provided a solid wall in front of the back four, sitting deep in the midfield. As a natural centre back, Ochieng has always dropped to the defence to form a three-man wall with Robinson Kamura and Salim Abdalla or on loan Soter Kayumba whenever situation demands.
Such is the importance of the two players to Ingwe that before playing Mathare United yesterday in Kakamega, Ingwe had gone nine matches unbeaten in the second half of the league after a disastrous first leg.
It is the reason why veteran Rwandan coach Andre Casa Mbungo is adamant that the club management must do whatever it takes to extend the duo’s stay at the den beyond this season.
The statistics are there for all to see, including our noisy neighbours, whose reign as Kenyan champions will soon be numbered.
This is Were’s second spell at the club after helping Ingwe clinch the FKF Shield Cup in his first stint in 2012. The duo, who have been constant figures in Kenya’s Sebastien Migne squad, are indeed ready to help Harambee Stars challenge for top honours at the Africa Cup of Nations that begins in June in Egypt.
However, I also feel Wyvonne Isuza, Vincent Oburu and Jairus Adira should make the Harambee Stars squad that will travel to Cairo.
With at least three AFC Leopards players included in the squad, I’m sure many Ingwe followers including myself will be proud to put on the new Harambee Stars replica jerseys expected to go on sale from May 20 ahead of the kick off on June 19.
By having Ingwe players in the team Migne squad can also attract more viewers on live broadcasts from our six million Ingwe fans and raise the profile of our national team.
I also believe Isuza deserves the Player of the Year Award even if AFC Leopards win nothing this season. The former Mathare United has proved beyond doubt that there is no better attacking midfielder in the Kenyan Premier League currently than him.
And if the 32-year-old midfielder leads Ingwe to finish in the top-five, then it’ll take be something special from a team that one point was threatened by relegation.
The feat would almost be the equivalent of a trophy-winning achievement.
Many could not have done the same job he has done with the squad around him before the arrival of Were and Ochieng.
Isuza has done a phenomenal job, especially this year.
Leopards have proved over the course of this season that they can handle big games especially going by their form in the second leg.
If the team maintains this momentum to the end of the season, beefs up the squad with thoughtful signings and inspires the return of the passionate fans who would drown the opposing team with the reverbing sound wave of “AFC! AFC! AFC!’,’ next season’s Kenyan Premier League is our for the taking.
Thereafter we will be going for the group stage of the African Champions League.