NAIROBI, March 8 – Mathare United tactician Francis Kimanzi has been named the inaugural winner of Fidelity Insurance Coach of the Month Award for February.
The former Harambee Stars head coach, who received Sh50, 000 and a trophy engraved with his name, claimed the accolade ahead of Muhoroni Youth’s James Omondi and Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno of Posta Rangers to emerge victorious.
Kimanzi’s side, who are yet to taste defeat, beat Chemelil Sugar and Sofapaka while drawing 1-1 with AFC Leopards in their season opener to finish top in the month of February on seven points.
Mathare netted seven goals in those three games, conceding three goals, with their biggest victory coming against 2009 champions Sofapaka, whipping Batoto Ba Mungu 5-2.
In a vote by Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) Football Commission, Kimanzi garnered 21 points to edge out Omondi who scored 17 while Otieno finished third having managed to collect 16 points.
Mathare started their season with a draw against giants Leopards then went on to beat Chemelil Sugar 1-0 and Sofapaka to climb top of the table at the end of the third round of the 2016 SportPesa Premier League.
Muhoroni Youth under Omondi’s tutelage also had two victories over Sofapaka and Thika United and a draw against Posta Rangers but placed lower in the table owing to inferior goal difference.
Otieno, who joined the promoted Rangers at the beginning of the season, guided his side to one victory and two draws in the month of February, ending the month with a cumulative five points out of three matches.
The initial list of contenders had Ulinzi Stars’ Robert Matano and his Bandari counterpart Twahir Muhidin but the duo failed to make it to the voting shortlist of three.
The tactician hailed the gong as a step in the right direction for football in the country, He said “I’m happy to be honoured today for my work although I give credit to the playing unit, management and other technical bench officials of the club. It is a result of team work. This initiative will spur growth obviously as everyone will be working hard to be the best,” Kimanzi, the most qualified coach in East Africa with a UEFA B licence, asserted.
After having a poor run at Tusker, Kimanzi opted to return where he began his career as a player before managing the Mathare side that lifted the 2008 Kenyan Premier League title.
The 40-year-old made resourceful signings to the team that played last year under the now Harambe Stars coach Stanley Okumbi while retaining the bulk of the team.
New signing forward Obadiah Ndege has contributed to the Slum Boys’ February success after netting three goals in the three matches while reigning midfielder of the year Eric Johanna and Roy Syamba partnered well to dominate midfield contests against opponents.
SJAK President Chris Mbaisi challenged the remaining fifteen coaches to up their game and dethrone Kimanzi in the month of March.
“We would like to see coaches doing their best from across all teams and bettering the performance of Kimanzi.” he said.
The Coach of the Month Award is open to all tacticians managing the leagues in the country including the lower tiers and women leagues and national teams.
This is the second Award for SJAK, a year after introducing the Player of the Month gong.