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Masika has no future in AFC, Says Minnaert

AFC Leopards Eric Masika (right) fights for the ball with Western Stima's Daniel Makachi in their SPL clash. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
AFC Leopards Eric Masika (right) fights for the ball with Western Stima’s Daniel Makachi in their SPL clash. PHOTO/FILE

NAIROBI, April 18- AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert has hinted that defender Eric Masika will be among the 10 players he will drop when the Kenyan Premier League transfer window opens in June over what he termed as indiscipline.

Minnaert said the defender has no future in the team after he went missing for a week, only to return without explanation.

“As long as I am still the coach, he has no future in the team. Every player in my team has to be disciplined. I tried to talk to Masika yesterday but he was smelling alcohol and I cannot have such players in my team,” an infuriated Minnaert told Capital Sport.

According to the coach, Masika was away from training for a week and when he returned he did not explain his whereabouts until the coach asked.

“He said he was sitting for his exams but he did not tell me. He said he wrote a text message to the team manager but this was not true. I told him he can come to training but will be benched. He cannot be with the team,” Minnaert added.

Masika sat out the whole of last week’s training, though fully changed and was also sidelined in Thursday’s friendly against Kenya’s Under-20 team where Leopards won 2-1.

The former Gor Mahia defender has found it tough finding play time under the Belgian tactician and as a result falling second fiddle to new signings Yakubu Ramadhan and Eugene Ambulwa.

Masika has been more of a journeyman since leaving Ingwe at the close of the 2014 season.

He joined Ushuru FC in January 2015 but struggled to get playing time to force him move to Sofapaka after six months, signing a three-year deal.

However, just eight days after penning the agreement, the contract was terminated and he moved back to Leopards who had lost players in the June transfer window.

Another player who has not come close to impressing Minnaert is Lamin Diallo and the coach has not been convinced the Ivorian is one of the strikers in his first team plans.

In the midweek friendly against Kenya’s Under-20, Diallo came on as a second half substitute and scored both goals that gave Ingwe the win.

He came on as a substitute as well in the league match against Ushuru but failed to bring in much impact.

“He comes in against Under-20 and only scores because he played against boys. Against men (Ushuru) he does nothing. He has not impressed me,” Minnert said.

The tactician maintains he will only work with players who suit into his philosophy and those whose discipline is beyond question.

Leopards dropped two points after drawing 1-1 with Ushuru over the weekend to allow leaders Tusker FC and Mathare United open a two point gap at the summit of the SportPesa Premier League on 20 points apiece.

“We lacked physicality in midfield and we played like pussycats and not the Leopards that we are. I am not happy with how we played because we didn’t create chances like we normally do. We lost the ball cheaply in midfield and gave away easy free-kicks,” Minnert asserted.

The coach maintains he will keep the title chase as he eyes a top three finish in June when he will strengthen the team.