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Matano asks for more support as AFC aim top five

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AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano speaks to midfielder Duncan Otieno before their game against Gor Mahia in the Mashemeji Derby on August 26, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8- AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano is asking for more support from the Ingwe fraternity as the club enters crucial stage of the season where they aim a top five finish after an underwhelming season.

Matano believes that for the team to rise up from their current 13th slot, it needs concerted effort from the coaching team, officials, fans and sponsors.

“The coaches and a team manager cannot do the work alone. A team is made up of so much and the only way for us to rise is if we can work as a team. Everyone needs to play his role and I believe we can get to where we want,” Matano told Capital Sport.

He bases his argument with league leaders Gor Mahia whom he says show the best example in the country, despite sometimes facing similar problems to them.

“One thing I like about Gor Mahia is how united they are. The players are committed, work for each other and the fans also rally behind the team always. It is not just about when you are winning. You need your fans the most when you are losing,” Matano added.

AFC Leopards coach Robert Matano consults with fellow coaches in a past Kenyan Premier League match. PHOTOS/Raymond Makhaya

“You don’t wait for success to happen then you come in. You have to be there at all times to build that success. A winning team starts straight from the training ground and with good support and motivation, we can rise,” Matano added.

The tactician who joined the team in July has called on the club’s fans to turn out in large numbers on Sunday when they travel to Kericho to take on a tricky Zoo Kericho side.

Only two points separate the two sides perched side by side in the standings at 12th and 13th.

AFC Leopards walk into the fixture still reverberating with the glee of a decent performance in the Mashemeji Derby and Matano has asked for a similar if not better performance from his charges.

“At this moment we are building up very well and the confidence the team has picked will be vital for us against Zoo. For us, we don’t talk much off the pitch. Our talking is on the pitch. We will go in there, give 100 percent effort and play to win,” Matano noted.

AFC Leopards Joshua Mawira tackles Zoo Kercho Stanlaus Okiya.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The last time the two sides met at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on May 14, AFC Leopards survived by a hair’s breadth with a late equalizer to draw 1-1.

As they prepare to meet almost four months later, Zoo is ready for a tougher and more organized AFC Leopards but head coach Sammy Okoth has vowed his side will stop at nothing to go one better, win the game and push into the top 10.

“It will be tougher against AFC this time round because I think they are better than they were when we last met. They are more organized and play better football so it is going to be a very tough match. For us, we have to get the three points because winning such matches is a huge morale booster,” Okoth noted.

Prior to the international break, Zoo gave themselves a huge morale booster with a 4-2 spanking of Western Stima at their Kericho Green Stadium backyard, handing them a shot of confidence after suffering back-to-back losses, including a 6-0 thrashing from Mathare United.

Okoth laments that the international break disrupted their rhythm, but is quick to point out it will not be an excuse ahead of the tie.

“AFC is a big team yes, but we approach this game just like the rest. We don’t want to know about how they play or how good they are. We are better off concentrating on ourselves and achieving our target of three points,” Okoth said.

From the remaining 12 games of the season, Okoth has said his target will be to win only five of those matches and treat results in the remaining seven as a bonus.

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