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AFC Leopards At 60: The History of Ingwe.

By March 13, 2024No Comments

As the ESPN sports network made its debut and the frenzy over Star Wars captivated the nation, AFC Leopards embarked on a journey to solidify their legacy throughout the 1970s.

The year was 1964, the month of March. The date was 12th. AFC Leopards club was born.

They have braced our hearts with their skill, going above and beyond to represent us. From regional competitions to international tournaments, the club, formerly known as Abaluhya FC (with the name changed in 1980), was undoubtedly one of the best clubs in the country at some point. With an impressive tally of 13 premier league trophies to their name, AFC Leopards’ legacy is one of unparalleled success and achievement. Delving into the archives reveals intriguing anecdotes and lesser-known facts about the mighty Ingwe.

The inaugural appearance of AFC Leopards in the East African Standard Newspaper on March 12th, 1964, under the banner of Abaluhya United FC, heralded the beginning of a remarkable journey. In that same year, the club clinched its maiden trophy, the Ahsan Cup, triumphing over Muslim FC with a 3-2 victory. Adding to their early success, AFC Leopards secured the Saba-Saba Cup by defeating Luo FC 2-1, commemorating Tanganyika’s independence. Notably, the club’s international debut saw them emerge victorious against the visiting Third Battalion Parachute Regiment from England, with goals from Elishah Shabasinya and Joe Kadenge, marking a historic milestone in their storied legacy.

The Remarkable 60s.

In 1966, AFC Leopards clinched the Haille Selassie Cup and secured their inaugural Kenya National Football League Championship, marking the inception of their illustrious journey to greatness.

The following year, in 1967, the club achieved a remarkable feat by securing a historic double, becoming the first team to clinch the national league title consecutively while also triumphing in the FA Cup of Kenya. Adding to their accolades, they claimed victory in the Allsopps Cup, demolishing Sunderland of Tanzania 5-0 in a memorable final at the Nairobi City Stadium.

Continuing their dominance into 1968, AFC Leopards secured the FA Cup for the second consecutive year. Despite their commendable efforts, they narrowly missed out on advancing to the finals of the African Club Cup Championship, succumbing to Etoile Filante Shooting Stars of Togo with a 2-4 aggregate scoreline in the semifinals.

The Glory Years.

As the ESPN sports network made its debut and the frenzy over Star Wars captivated the nation, AFC Leopards embarked on a journey to solidify their legacy throughout the 1970s.

The club’s reputation soared as they kicked off the decade with a series of remarkable victories. They clinched the Olympic Cup Soccer tournament, rallying past formidable opponents like Gor Mahia with a resounding 2-1 triumph in the final match. Additionally, they asserted their dominance in local competitions, emerging victorious in the Nairobi Provincial Football Association League and the Jamhuri Cup. Notably, they showcased their prowess on the international stage by defeating Asante Kotoko 1-0 in a friendly encounter at the Nairobi City Stadium.

In 1971, despite facing some controversy in the Africa Club Cup Championship, AFC Leopards etched their name in history by securing an unbeaten record in the belated 1970 Kenya National Football League. The following year, they continued their winning streak by clinching the Nairobi Provincial Football Association League title.

Amidst these triumphs, the club underwent a significant transformation, changing its name to Abaluhya F.C in 1973. Nonetheless, they maintained their winning momentum, claiming victory in various tournaments including the Pope Paul Cup in Kampala and the Mayor’s Cup.

In 1974, AFC Leopards faced formidable opponents such as the Congo national team and Simba Sports of Tanzania, showcasing their resilience despite finishing as runners-up in certain competitions. However, they bounced back in 1975 by clinching the Mayor’s Cup once again.

By 1977, the club’s achievements earned them recognition under section 10 of the Societies Act, further solidifying their status in Kenyan football. The decade culminated in glory as they triumphed over Maragoli to secure yet another Mayor’s Cup title in 1979. Their crowning achievement came with a triumphant victory over Kampala City Council in the East and Central Africa Club Championship, cementing their legacy as one of the dominant forces in regional football.

The Golden Era (1980s)

The 1980s ushered in a golden era for AFC Leopards, marked by unprecedented success both domestically and abroad. Renamed AFC Leopards Sports Club in 1980, the team secured league titles, CECAFA Club Championships, and East and Central Africa Clubs Cup trophies with remarkable consistency. The decade saw the club evolve into a footballing powerhouse, etching its name among the continent’s elite.

The New Millennium (2000s)

Much has been left to the imagination as the club began trailing behind in this era, but despite facing challenges in subsequent decades, including relegation and periods of transition, AFC Leopards has remained resilient, showcasing the enduring spirit that defines the club. The 2000s brought both triumphs and trials, from cup victories to relegation battles, each chapter adding to the club’s rich tapestry of history. We hope to see the club in the future earn a title since that hasn’t happened since 1998.

As AFC Leopards navigates the modern era of Kenyan football under the umbrella of the Football Kenya Federation, its legacy endures, a testament to the enduring passion and dedication of players, staff, and supporters alike. With each match, the roar of the leopard echoes through stadiums, a reminder of the club’s storied past and boundless potential for the future.

How Ingwe Celebrated.

As a part of the #IngweAt60 festivities, the club paid a visit to the Shangilia Mtoto Africa Children’s Home situated in Kibagare. During their visit, they generously contributed food supplies, engaged in tree planting activities, and shared a delightful cake with the children residing there. It was truly a heartwarming occasion and a remarkable gesture to commemorate 60 years of the club’s existence.

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