Mali striker Diarra opts out of Ingwe switch

It is now official that AFC Leopards’ target Ismail Diarra will not join the 12-times domestic league champions, after the Malian international opted to remain with Rwanda’s side Rayon Sport.

The collapse of the widely publicised move that was to be the icing in Belgian head coach Ivan Minnaert’s mid season revolution leaves the club in limbo with the fate of the club’s other Malian signing, Moussa Sissoko from Djoliba AC, also unclear.

“It’s unfortunate, everyone is disappointed about the development. Reports from Rwanda confirm that the management was reluctant to release the player, with fans pressurizing them to ensure he remained.

“Initially they appeared to have let him go when we were sealing the deal but when they got a way to meet his demands, they convinced him to stay. Even fans are said to have held a fund drive for his pay,” Ingwe’s team manager Joseph Milimu told.

Diarra’s raised eyebrows from when it was announced once it emerged he would continue playing for Rayon past the closure of Kenya Premier League June transfer window.

Leopards, having released a number of players including striker Lamine Diallo who joined Ushuru FC, are in desperate need for Diarra’s replacement before a fortnight, when a window for a signing a free agent will be closed.

Another reliable source, on condition of anonymity told Citizen Digital the club is in advanced talks with another West African who is unattached currently and who could be in the country before next week’s KPL fixtures.

“For Sissoko, we are waiting for FIFA’s release, I don’t know why it is taking this long to have clear him. Once he’s cleared an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) will roughly take a day and he will be good to play.

“For now we have to cope with Kepha Aswani as Kiongera (Paul) is injured. We don’t  want to rush him back to the field and probably miss him for a longer period as it happened with Andrew Tololwa.

“The other striker is Alfred Wekesa, but this weekend he can’t feature, he suffering from Malaria. The encouraging thing is that we have quality midfielders like John Ndirangu, Allan Kateregga and Yusuf Suf who can push forward with Aswani as the target man,” the team manager added.

Meanwhile, Leopards will not vote in the club’s Sunday’s election, despite the constitution allowing them to participate.

“They are supposed to vote, but we have exempted them from the exercise so that they focus on the game. We unanimously agreed they just watch as the other stakeholders decide on the next office bearers. This will also enable their loyalty to whoever carries the day,” revealed Milimu.