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No honeymoon for Kimanzi

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 31- Former Harambee Stars coach, Francis Kimanzi, will be walking into a cauldron of expectations when he arrives Friday night to take the reigns of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Sofapaka.

While the well heeled club by local standards intends to pull all stops to accord a red carpet welcome the tactician who will be returning from a one-year coaching course in Holland, Kimanzi can also be assured the honeymoon will be short.

“From what he has told us, Kimanzi is fired up for this job and we have given him a three year contract to give him ample time to demonstrate how fired up he is to help us achieve our ambition,” Sofapaka president, Elly Kalekwa, began stating at a press briefing on Thursday.

“We however, expect him to win us the other trophies remaining this season including the KPL title we lost last year and the new Super 8 knock-out tournament that we are yet to play due to our continental commitments,” he added.

The president stated Kimanzi, who will take over from caretaker manager, Ezekiel Akwana, would officially start engagement on Sunday and his first task will to prepare the side to face league leaders, Tusker FC in a rescheduled KPL tie on Tuesday.

“Kimanzi will have no problem since he has a good team capable of achieving what we desire. He has been consulting with Ezekiel who has done a good job in sweeping the FKL Cup and Dstv/SuperSport Super Cup on they players the team needed and they were brought in. Budget wise, we cannot have any problem bringing another player from the pool of those we can afford if he so requests,” Kalekwa explained.

The immediate former Mathare United coach who left the post after receiving a six month ban for a tussle with a referee early last season arrives at 9:15pm to a reception by team officials.

“He is a good coach and you all know that but he has to prove himself since in as much as he will be helping us, Sofapaka will also be helping him to show what he is capable of but we are happy to have his services and we shall display that tomorrow (Friday).”

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Kalekwa intimated the 2008 KPL title winning coach would have an expanded role in advising management on how to propel the club forward as they seek to attract more fans and better players to the team.

“We are ready to listen to what he will suggest since he has not been learning coaching alone but other aspects that make a club successful.”

The president has forged a reputation of settling for nothing less than local supremacy since the club joined top flight KPL in 2009 when they lifted the league crown. He dispensed of his title winning coach, Robert Matano two months into the defence season as well as his successor, Uganda’s Sam Ssimbwa, who was hired under similar lofty ambitions barely six months into his role.

When quizzed whether the same short fuse would be applied to Kimanzi, Kalekwa stated, “We will be patient with him and that is why we signed him for three years since we have faith he will lead us to where we want to go. I believe that is enough time for him to shape the team since we also need stability in the technical bench.”

He disclosed Akwana, who took over from Ssimbwa would still be an integral part of the bench adding, “We have big things planned for him as you shall soon see.”

Besides leading Mathare United to their maiden KPL title, Kimanzi enhanced his reputation when he led Harambee Stars to qualify for the fifth and final round of the joined qualifiers for last year’s World Cup and Nations Cup before he was shown the door in January 2009, a decision that raised uproar.

The 33-year-old was vindicated when his hyped German replacement, Antoine Hey led the team to an ignominious exit from both competitions after winning one and losing four matches he took charge before going AWOL on the team as they prepared to face Nigeria in a crucial tie.

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