Former Coach Luc Eymael Blames Lack of Continuity for AFC Leopards' 26-Year Trophy Drought

Eymael emphasizes the need for consistency and patience, criticizing frequent coaching changes as a barrier to long-term success in African football.

Dennis Onsare
Dennis Onsare

Last Updated: 2024-06-07

Louis Hobbs

6 minutes read

Luc Eymael named as new Black Leopards head coach

Former AFC Leopards coach Luc Eymael believes the once mighty giants can end their 26 years without winning the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League trophy if they stick with their technical bench and the playing unit heading into the new season.

Ingwe’s quest to wrap up the 2023-24 campaign with at least silverware went up in smoke on May 27, 2023, after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to fellow Premier League outfit Kenya Police in the semi-finals stage of the Mozzart Bet FKF Cup.

The domestic Cup defeat at Police Sacco Stadium came almost a week after their rivals Gor Mahia had been crowned a record 21st Premier League champions with three matches to spare. K’Ogalo had achieved the fete following their 3-0 success against Muhoroni Youth, to reach an unassailable 67 points, ahead of second-placed Tusker FC.

Ingwe’s last league success came in 1998 while their last trophy triumph – the domestic Cup – was realised in 2017 after securing a 2-0 victory against Kariobangi Sharks in the final. Ingwe’s campaign in the ongoing league was not the best, starting in the worst way possible as they went for seven matches without registering victory. The unconvincing results saw Ingwe drop into the relegation zone at the halfway stage.

The club management led by chairman Dan Shikanda proceeded to fire coach Tom Juma, and in came Tomas Trucha. The Czech tactician successfully managed to haul Ingwe from the bottom of the 18-team table and by the time K’Ogalo was crowned, they were sitting sixth with 47 points amassed from 12 wins, 11 draws, and eight defeats.

Image Credits: Imaage Credits: FARPost

Image Credits: Imaage Credits: FARPost

Lack of Consistency Denying AFC Leopards Success

The trophyless campaign left Ingwe fans in pain yet again and according to the 64-year-old Belgian coach, who handled Ingwe in the 2013 season before he terminated his contract to join Rayon Sports of Rwanda, the club’s top hierarchy should keep trust with Trucha if they are to compete effectively and win trophies in the future.

“AFC Leopards have a coach; I think they should be happy with the coach, I think the coach wants to go into the transfer market and get new players, and reinforce the squad, so it is not time to make changes, it is time to look at continuity in all aspects and see how far they can go in the new season,” Eymael, who currently handles DR Congo’s outfit Aigles du Congo told

Eymael, who has vast experience coaching in Africa, having started his stint in the continent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Linafoot club AS Vita in 2010, maintained for Ingwe to start achieving success, the office must learn to be patient with whatever they have or their pursuit for trophies will remain a far-fetched dream.

“For AFC Leopards, I can say it is difficult to bring back those glory days to the team, but what can you do if you want to keep changing coaches, it is not easy but when you are in such institutions (as the management) you must keep the trust to bring back the glory days by sticking with what you have, and trusting in the process, that is your job, it is your job, and you have to do it,” added Eymael.

Kenyan League Walk in the Park for Gor Mahia

Eymael, who holds the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest football coaching qualification, further revealed why Gor Mahia’s recent dominance had watered down the competitiveness of the Kenyan top-flight. K’Ogalo’s 21st success saw them win back-to-back titles, having clinched the trophy in the 2022-23 campaign after beating Tusker FC to the gong on the final day.

“It is always a walk in the park for Gor Mahia in the Kenyan league and it is a bit unfortunate because when it is like that it means the league is less competitive not like in England where the Premier League is very open when you have Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Everton, it can be open to everyone, it can have a surprise winner, it can be one of the toughest league to win, and these makes the Premier League very interesting,” explained Eymael.

Not only AFC Leopards, but Most African Teams also Lack Stability

Eymael, who took over at the Den on a short-term deal while AFC was rooted at the bottom of the log fighting relegation but helped them to second place finish and a ticket to the 2014 CAF Confederation Cup, admitted the problem of clubs embracing continuity was not only at Ingwe but most of the teams in Africa.

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If you analyse all the teams in Africa, how many (teams) do you have that are consistent in working with continuity of the projects they have initiated?”

Luc Eymael

“In South Africa, we have one, we have Mamelodi (Sundowns), a bit of Orlando (Pirates) now, you go to Egypt we have only Al Ahly, you go to Morocco maybe we have RS Berkane, FAR Rabat, and if you go to Tanzania, you can say a bit yes, Yanga, I don’t know the rest of Africa and that is the biggest problem of Africa, continuity, keeping the coach having faith with the project,” said Eymael, who has coached Young Africans (Yanga SC) of Tanzania, Polokwane City and Free State Stars in South Africa.

Eymael gave an example of Arsenal, who stood by coach Mikel Arteta despite a worst start to his reign at the North London club which saw them lose five straight Premier League matches.

“Not only AFC Leopards, I am sorry to say most teams in Africa don’t give coaches enough time to implement their visions or what they want to bring to the team, or even allow the coaches to instill their winning philosophy on players and things like that, and to me it is affected most of the African teams,” said Eymael.

“The most important thing to remember is when Mikel (Arteta) came to Arsenal he lost the first five games, which team in Africa will accept a coach losing five games in a row especially when you are at the early stages of the league?” questioned Eymael.

“But after one season, Arteta succeeded in qualifying Arsenal to the Europa League, and last season came close to lifting the Premier League title but lost it to City by only two points. It all happened because Arsenal kept faith in Arteta, that is something you can never see happen with most of the African teams.”

Eymael continued: “We should remember when Jurgen Klopp arrived in Liverpool or when Pep Guardiola joined Man City they never succeeded in bringing positive results at the start of their reigns, they came with terrible results but both Liverpool and Man City never chased them away, it is the big difference with Europe and Africa and one of the problems are Africa teams never take time to analyse the project they are starting with a new coach.

“We only have a few teams that keep faith with the project, playing style, keep faith with the technical bench, and the key players to keep long and help in the project and those are the teams always succeeding across Africa.”

AFC Leopards have three matches – against Shabana, KCB, and Ulinzi Stars – to conclude the season before they start planning on how to wrestle the title from Gor Mahia in the new campaign slated to kick off in August.

Dennis Onsare
Dennis Onsare Sports Writer

Dennis is a seasoned journalist in Kenya with over 18 years of experience. Having started his career at Kenya Times Newspaper, Dennis worked for Standard Newspaper for nearly six years as a Sports Writer. At Standard, he was privileged to cover Kenya's national team Harambee Stars outside the country, the biggest of all being the Four Nations tournament in Cairo, Egypt. He also covered the U17 team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.