NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 10 – Robert Matano has promised to take AFC Leopards back to the top as he prepares for a return to the club he coached in 2010 and 2011, saying he is confident with his experience and abilities, Ingwe will roar again.
Matano took charge of his last game as National Super League side Bidco FC head coach on Sunday, marking his last bow with a 2-0 win over Forest Rangers in the GOtv Shield and he now switches energies to AFC.
“There’s nothing new to me because as a coach, I am used to it. We come and go; that’s the nature of our job. You can go and come back even 50 times but every time you make a comeback is a new challenge. I am ready for it,” Matano told Capital Sport.
Matano will take charge of his first AFC Leopards training session on Monday morning and he is wary of the challenge ahead of him with the 13-time Kenyan Premier League champions being perched 12th in the log with a tail of eight winless matches.
“I am a senior coach with a lot of experience and I love challenges. I love to compete and I am grateful to be back to the league. It is a big challenge but soon enough, everyone will see what I am capable of doing. The team will be back,” the tactician, fondly referred to as ‘The Lion’ declared.
“I cannot say much about them because I have not seen the team, its strength and abilities of the players. I will look at the whole situation in training and then plan there. I am ready for the job, no doubt.”
Matano becomes the fourth AFC Leopards coach this season and he takes charge on a six month deal, with the possibility of extending after the end of the season depending on how the club performs.
On whether he will turn the fortunes around, Matano is not shy of confidence.
“We will. We just have to change the mentality and attitude of the players and improve their performance. That’s all,” the tough tactician added.
Matano, who left Ulinzi Stars after 18 months in December last year, started off the season with Nairobi City Stars, but left early last month to join Bidco FC.
The tactician faced tough final months of the year in 2016, having fallen ill, hampering his coaching job and seeing him stay out from August.
“To be honest it was a big challenge and it spoiled my plans with the league and GOtv Shield last year. It was very unfortunate but I thank God that I fought and won the war. I am back and I will work hard to get back to the winning coach that I am,” Matano said.
He stands as the only coach to have won the Kenyan Premier League twice with two different teams, having won it with Sofapaka on their debut in the top flight league in 2009 then with Tusker FC in 2012. Though he concedes it will be a long shot this season, he hopes he can pick up a third title soon.
He will not be shy of challenging for trophies, with Ingwe having progressed to the third round of the GOtv Shield.