Leopards’ goalkeeping hero headed home for lack of rent
Just a day after his heroics inspired AFC Leopards to 1-0 win over Sofapaka in a tense Kenyan Premier League match at Nyayo National Stadium, Ugandan striker Karim Ndungwa who was deployed as a makeshift goalie in the match is headed home and may never return.
His landlord on Monday gave him a 48-hour notice to vacate his rented house in Nairobi’s Ngara area over non payment of Sh17,000 in rent for two months.
The Ugandan forward who has been residing along Park Road in Ngara said that he finds it hard to live in a foreign country where he cannot makes ends meet.
“I’m supposed to leave tomorrow (Tuesday). I have to go to Uganda because I have no option. I have not paid rent for two months and I was issued with a two-month quit notice yesterday,” Ndungwa said on Monday.
On Sunday, Leopards coach Zdravko Logarusic was forced to deploy the forward as makeshift goalie after team goalkeepers Wycliffe Kasaya, Joel Bataro, Ali Kesi and several other players boycotted the match over unpaid salaries and bonuses. Only 14 players showed up.
Kasaya at one time turned up at Nyayo but later left. Last week, want-away captain Martin Imbalambala was locked out of his house in Thika over Sh30,000 in rent arrears.
Good Samaritan Mathew Opwora and a group of Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fans, led by Gor’s former deputy secretary-general Roselinder Achieng, raised funds for Imbalambala through social media.
Leopards have been undergoing tough financial times since sponsors Mumias Sugar withdrew their sponsorship.
Meanwhile, Veteran Sofapaka skipper John Baraza regrets his failure to convert a penalty kick awarded late in the second half of their match against Leopards on Sunday.
Baraza who is Sofapaka’s lead scorer with six goals this term, unwittingly directed his effort to the right and Ndungwa dived to the right to thwart his attempt and crush his side’s dream of drawing level in the game.
“I did not panic. I have taken a lot of penalty kicks before. The goalkeeper made the right guess and saved it. You know we were trailing and I just wanted to score to make it level,” he said on Monday.
The evergreen Baraza last Wednesday celebrated his 38th birthday while still in active football. Many Kenyan footballers have failed to achieve the feat, but Baraza seems to be getting better with age.
Most Kenyan footballers either give up or retire before turning 38 but Baraza, who epitomizes discipline, hard work and humility has kept going. And few players come near locally.
Harambee Stars assistant coach Musa Otieno who captained Kenya for close to a decade and Ushuru midfielder Charles Okwemba who, at 34, is still kicking the ball, come close.
Baraza said it gives him great joy to have served his country with distinction.
“The fact that I’m a senior player at Sofapaka, also means that I have to lead by example. Many upcoming players look up to me.”
The four-time Golden Boot winner (2002, 2009, 2010 and 2012) had been tipped to retire from competitive football when Sofapaka made him player-coach in 2013.
SOURCE: Daily Nation