NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 9 – AFC Leopards boss Robert Matano is not mincing his words ahead of October 20’s GOtv Shield final against Kariobangi Sharks in Nairobi, laying it bare that he will be throwing his entire arsenal to ensure Ingwe finish the season with some respect.
The two teams faced each other on Saturday in Machakos in a Kenyan Premier League match, a dress rehearsal for their titanic battle on Mashujaa Day, but it was a tad less inspiring. Matano though warns the script will be different for the final.
“We are going all out for it (GOtv Shield). AFC is a big team and we cannot finish the season without a trophy. I am a winner and I am going there to win. When you get to the final, the aim is only one and we will go all out for it,” the experienced tactician told Capital Sport.
AFC Leopards last won the Shield title in 2013 with James Nandwa and this year, they look determined to bag another piece of silverware especially in a season where they have struggled to impress with their fans seemingly dejected if stadium attendance is anything to go by.
Matano admits it will not be a walk in the park against Sharks but reckons tactically, he will have done his homework right to tailor his side well for a win.
The tactician is however worried of the piling injuries list with Vincent Oburu and Aziz Okaka having been withdrawn in Saturday’s match due to hamstring strains. Ugandan Keziron Kizito as well as defenders Marcus Abwao and Joshua Mawira are already sidelined.
“It is a big headache for us because those are important players in the squad and unlike other teams, I don’t have a big squad to pick players from. It is tougher because we have to play league matches in a very small period of time which makes recovery even more difficult,” the tactician lamented.
Meanwhile, Kariobangi Sharks boss William Muluya has vowed to ensure the KPL newbies turn the tables on the bigwigs, saying playing them on Saturday opened up his eyes on what he should do to get round them in the Shield final.
“The team will most likely remain the same and the tactics might not change match. At least I know how best I will approach that game and I know if we do everything correct, we will come out winners. It will be tough because we have to respect the fact that they are a big team,” Muluya noted.
Sharks have had a tremendous outing in their maiden appearance in top flight football and the GOtv Shield final berth is a cherry on top of their cake that has seen them rise to sixth in the league standings.
“If there was a scale higher than 10, then I would give my team. I think they have been exceptional,” the tactician said, heaping praise on the performance of his players.
Sharks are also confronted with a tough run of fixtures before the Shield final and barely three days after playing AFC in Machakos face defending KPL champions Tusker FC in Ruaraka on Wednesday then host Chemelil Sugar on Saturday at Kasarani.
Muluya has hinted he will be forced to rotate his squad heavily in their league matches to curtail the effects of fatigue and ensure he fields his strongest squad in the Shield final.