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Matano returns as AFC Leopards head coach

Ulinzi Stars head coach Robert Matano has said their poor start on the KPL second leg is not permanent.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 5 – The game of musical chairs that is the AFC Leopards coaching job continues to revolve, with former Sofapaka and Tusker FC title winning coach Robert Matano set to return to the club for a period of six months beginning next Monday.

AFC Leopards chairman Dan Mule has confirmed to Capital Sport that the tactician, fondly referred to as ‘The Lion’ has agreed personal terms with the club and is scheduled to report to training July 10 to take charge of the club dwindling at 12th spot in the Kenyan Premier League log.

“We have had talks with him and reached an agreement. We have asked him to go clear with his former team Bidco United then report to training on Monday. I am confident that he is going to return the team to the top,” Mule said.

“We have a good team in terms of players but our problem has been discipline. That is the sole reason we settled on Matano because of his track record on that area. We trust he will put the team back together,” Mule declared.

Robert Matano converses with Benjamin Nyangweso before Ulinzi’s GOtv Shield final match against Tusker FC on October 20, 2016. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The former Ulinzi Stars boss will take charge for an initial six months, up to the end of the season and the contract will be reviewed in December with an option of extending.

Matano has had two previous spells with Ingwe, having coached the side in 2010 and 2011.

The tactician, the only coach to win the Kenyan Premier League title with two different teams started off the year as the tactician of second tier side Nairobi City Stars before leaving last month to join Thika-based Bidco United.

After leaving Tusker at the end of the 2013 season, Matano moved to Nakuru where he joined four-time champions Ulinzi Stars, working with the military side until the end of last season when his contract expired amidst health issues.

Under the new coaching structure at the den, Matano will be assisted by Tom Juma who had been holding brief after the departure of Dorian Marin while Tanzanian Dennis Kitambi will drop down to the role of Team Manager/Analyst.

AFC Leopards head coach Dorian Marin shouts instructions to his players during their Kenyan Premier League match against Mathare United on June 17, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

-Lidonde sacked-

Meanwhile, the club has fired Team manager Tony Lidonde and goalkeeper Alex Mwangi over what Mule termed as ‘an internal issue’. With Kitambi already taking over the TM, Mule says they will settle on a new goalkeeper trainer over the next two weeks.

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Ingwe has been a club notorious of hiring and firing coaches with Matano set to become the fourth man at the helm this season and the 17th since 2009. They started off the season with English coach Stewart Hall who however, left at the start of June.

They then picked on Dorian Marin, but the Romanian would go down as the shortest serving coach having managed the team for only two weeks.

He left after disagreement with the team’s leadership despite having handled the team in the Super Cup in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and their league match against Mathare United.

The former Kenyan international who has previously worked with Administration Police and Muhoroni Youth says he is optimistic the club will rise despite finding them struggling at 12th spot on the Kenyan Premier League table. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Former Kenyan international Juma then took charge but has only been in charge of three matches before Matano’s imminent arrival.

Gilbert Selebwa, Edward Manoah, Nick Yakhama, the late Chris Makokha, Robert Bollen, Jan Koops, Tom Olaba, Luc Eymael, James Nandwa, Pieter de Jongh, Zdravko Logarusic, Ivan Minnaert and Ezekiel Akwana are among the coaches who have occupied the hot seat that is AFC Leopards coaching job since their return to top flight in 2009.

Interestingly, the huge coaching turnover has not come with trophies attached to them. The club has only managed to win the GOtv Shield in 2013 under the tutelage of James Nandwa who went on to be sacked in 2014.

They are still waiting on a maiden Premier league title since 1998.

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