NAIROBI, Kenya, April 6- With the yoke of huge expectation weighing heavily on his shoulders, Francis Kimanzi was quick to dismiss he had the magic wand to return his new club Sofapaka to the apex of Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
The former Harambee Stars and Mathare United coach enjoyed a winning return to the league after a one year training hiatus in Holland when his charges beat leaders Tusker by a solitary goal on Tuesday night.
“I had an opportunity to watch them against Ismaily and drafted a few things, some details that would influence that game to test their understanding. I was so impressed that they could pick a lot and quickly on the tactical board demonstration without showing them on the ground.
“I’m impressed with maturity of the group, it’s a talented group but I’m treading carefully because I have a lot of information and I’m careful I could give them too much information too quickly,” the coach added.
He called for tolerance as he seeks to build the side to suit his vision.
“It’s a tactical team building process, so you must be very patient and must wait for long before you see what I really I want to see myself. I haven’t seen what I want to see.”
Commenting on Sofapaka president, Elly Kalekwa’s assertion the arrival of Kimanzi would herald the club’s mission to recapture the league title they lost to Ulinzi Stars last season as well as make inroads in continental competition, Kimanzi poured cold water on the hyper ambitions surrounding his coming.
“This is my first assignment in full control so I have a responsibility to save my team from relegation first. I need to confirm to the fans, to sponsors to the people around the team that this team will be in KPL next year and I have responsibility to keep the team in the league.”
Kimanzi assessed it was too early for him to grasp the changes in the league since he last managed Mathare United at the beginning of last season before he was handed a six month ban for a spat with a referee.
“I have only played Tusker and I need to play all the teams in the league to understand how things have changed. Our win against Tusker is a good statement but I need to play bottom teams as well so that I can have a good idea.”
Kimanzi revealed he had only worked on set-pieces against Tusker to seek the advantage in Tuesday’s high profile KPL encounter and was pleased his side had troubled the leaders from dead ball play.
“I did not do much for this game but to work on free-kicks, corners and penalties. This is where we were most dangerous to our opponents and I could have had a penalty in the first half and when we got one in the second, our striker put it away cleanly.”
Veteran forward, Francis Baraza who sunk in the spot-kick awarded when Noah Abich hauled John Njoroge with quarter of an hour to go asserted, “From what I have seen, it is more of an advantage to us, having Kimanzi in our team. Tactically, we were the better team considering we had played three to four matches in a week when our opponents were having a rest.”
Sofapaka next play surprise package Rangers who are acquitting themselves well on their second season in the top flight and the first since their sponsors, Postal Corporation of Kenya pulled the plug out of the side.
Rangers are seventh two points shy of Kimanzi’s charges and will entertain Sofapaka at Nairobi’s City Stadium on Saturday.