The Shirt With: AFC Leopards Winger Eugene Mukangula

Mar 11 - by Louis Kalinga for SportPesa News

The second most successful team in Kenyan history, AFC Leopards SC came calling and the upcoming talent became new head coach Rodolfo Zapata’s first signing in 2018

Eugene Mukangula (left) of AFC Leopards SC in action against Kariobangi Sharks FC. PHOTO/CapitalFM

  • Born 42 kilometers (km) outside Kenya’s capital in the industrial town of Thika, AFC Leopards SC fast-growing sensation Eugene Mukangula remembers always wanting to play football from a tender age
  • Thika United, formerly of the SportPesa Premier League (SPL), were formed in 2002 as Beirut FC and are widely known and respected for breeding young players and turning them into local football stars
  • Before his departure to greener pastures, Mukangula was recognized as the fans Player of the Month at his boyhood club and to date, he credits that as one of his most memorable days of his young career

NAIROBI, Kenya- It is not every day that a young African boy gets to realize his dreams of playing professional football and if that sort of opportunity lands on one, the pressure to make it count is overwhelming.

Born 42 kilometers (km) outside Kenya’s capital in the industrial town of Thika, AFC Leopards SC fast-growing sensation Eugene Mukangula remembers always wanting to play football from a tender age.

The speedy left-footed attacking midfielder played the beautiful game all through his childhood and by the time he completed his secondary school education at the Malindi United Academy, he was ready for the opportunity that came knocking.

“I went to a football academy based in Malindi and after the coach left, he introduced me to Thika United FC,” Mukangula reminisced.

Thika United, formerly of the SportPesa Premier League (SPL), were formed in 2000 as Beirut FC and are widely known and respected for breeding young players and turning them into local football stars.

The club has produced young talent such as Kenyan international Francis Kahata and has contributed names such as David Okello, Dennis Odhiambo and former coach Nicholas Muyoti among others to the national team.

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“They really helped me grow because they offered me an opportunity to play.

“Most clubs in Kenya do not offer youngsters adequate playing time but at Thika this was not the case. They believed in developing young talent,” Mukangula underlined.

“Many young players who leave school with the dream of playing professional football join Thika and are assured of a shot because of the sort of attention they are offered,” he added.

Before his departure to greener pastures, Mukangula was recognized as the fans Player of the Month at his boyhood club and to date, he credits that as one of his most memorable days of his young career.

He was instrumental in helping his side avoid relegation in the 2017 SPL campaign, scoring five goals and adding four assists during his final season as a Thika player under Muyoti.

“Leaving Thika made me feel so bad. This club has helped so many Kenyan footballers grow into the talent that they are today,” the 23-year old winger said of his departure.

The second most successful team in Kenyan history, AFC Leopards SC came calling and the upcoming talent became new head coach Rodolfo Zapata’s first signing in 2018.

Shortly after, Mukangula’s long-term friend and former Thika teammate Saad Musa Mugabe was also recruited by Leopards and the duo’s midfield partnership renewed.

“At first I was under a lot of pressure being the clubs first signing under the new coach. He expected a lot from me and so did my new teammates and the entire Leopards community.


“Now I don’t have that sort of pressure because I’m used to the club. My teammates helped me settle into the club and now it’s my home,” Mukangula declared.

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The entertaining and hard to contain winger remains an integral part of the Leopards squad and there is no doubt that they will need to retain his services if they are to win a first league title in 21 years.

Mukangula owes his prowess and dedication is to his childhood role model, FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who remains his biggest inspiration..

“Growing up my idol was Messi, I remember taking the ball and trying to dribble past everyone.

“The jersey number 19 is what he wore when he was breaking onto the global scene and that is why I chose the same one that I wear to date,” Mukangula disclosed.