NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 17- Robert Matano has warned that AFC Leopards will be a totally different animal in the remaining games of the season after starting his tenure as the club’s head coach with a 1-0 victory over Bandari in Mombasa on Saturday.
Ingwe had previously gone on a nine-match winless streak before Matano took over last Monday, guiding them to their first win in the Kenyan Premier League since early April.
“It was a very tough match but I am glad that we could come out with a win. The players worked hard, gave their all and it was important to start with a win. That now gives us a bit of confidence,” the tactician, fondly referred to as ‘The Lion’ noted.
“We have started and we should expect a different team now. We have changed quite a few things in the past one week we have trained and they have worked out well for us. We are continuing and we can’t say much now. We just take a game as it comes and step by step we make progress,” added the coach.
The win takes AFC to third in the standings and though it is not a significant rise from their previous 12th place ranking, Matano knows it will inject a boost of confidence as they look on for a respectable finish this season.
-Ulinzi rise to top-
Meanwhile, Ulinzi Stars rose to the top of the KPL log with their 2-1 win over Nakumatt at Ruaraka Complex on Saturday, their first win after a run of five winless games in all competition.
Ulinzi made an important bounce back especially after their GOtv Shield exit the previous weekend and head coach Benjamin Nyangweso believes it will be a turnaround that will aid them to fight for a league title they last won in 2010.
“It is a huge boost because right now, this is the only thing we are fighting for. We have not won since we lost away in Chemelil before the first leg closed and winning against Nakumatt gives us a confidence boost,” Nyangweso offered.
The coach now hopes his side can maintain the same position till the end of the season, but he admits it will not come easy with competition on the top stiff.
“We need to be consistent; that’s the secret. Every game going forward is like a final and we need to give our best,” Nyangweso commented.
Ulinzi sit at the apex with 29 points, same as Posta Rangers but with a superior goal difference, the military side being the league’s best scoring team. Rangers’ win was also an important one as it broke their six match winless streak.
The two teams took much advantage of a slip-up by defending champions Tusker FC who were previously perched top, the brewers going down by a shock 1-0 result to Western Stima in Kisumu.
The result was a huge one to Henry Omino whose side crawled off the bottom of the standings into 16th, but still languishing in the drop zone. While Omino’s men keep their survival hopes alive, Francis Kimanzi and Mathare United are dipping.
The tactician has admitted he is worried with the team’s trend, but remains confident they will avoid the chop.
“I believe we are playing better football than almost all the teams I have seen in the league. It is only the result that is not favoring us. We have small problems especially in finishing but I am confident we can sort those out,” Kimanzi said.
He added; “There is concern of course and a bit of anxiety because when you go for so long without winning, there is some pressure that builds on the players. They want to do things very quickly and end up making mistakes.”
The Slum Boys have only won twice this season, their season opening 3-2 result over Thika United and a shock 1-0 win over Gor Mahia on April 30. Since then, they have gone on an eight-match winless streak, losing five consecutively before drawing the last three.
The 2008 KPL champions have found the going tough this season, especially with Kimanzi keeping belief with young players after the departure of most of his first team players at the end of last season.
KPL weekend results:
Friday: Posta Rangers 2 Nzoia Sugar 1, Western Stima 1 Tusker FC 0.
Saturday: Bandari 0 AFC Leopards 1, Nakumatt 1 Ulinzi Stars 2, Mathare United 0 SoNy Sugar 0, Thika United 0 Sofapaka.
Sunday: Zoo Kericho 2 Chemelil Sugar 0(Kericho Stadium).