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Matano hands ‘Gattuso’ career lifeline at AFC

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Gattuso re-unites with Matano who coached him during his stint at Tusker FC in 2011 and hopes to re-ignite his former self after being dropped by Gor Mahia in June last year.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11- Former Gor Mahia FC combative midfielder Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth has joined AFC Leopards on a two-year deal as head coach Robert Matano handed him a career lifeline.

Gattuso re-unites with Matano who coached him during his stint at Tusker FC in 2011 and hopes to re-ignite his former self after being dropped by Gor Mahia in June last year.

“He has been training with the team and the coach believes he is a player who can really help us especially in midfield with his experience,” AFC Leopards chairman Dan Mule told Capital Sport.

The club has also snapped up another midfielder, Joseph Kuria, who was released by Posta Rangers at the end of last season. Kuria joined Posta after a one-year stint in Nakuru with Ulinzi Stars but failed to crack into Sammy Omollo’s starting squad.

The 31-year old Bekoe won the Ghanaian Premier League and the domestic cup with Asante Kotoko in 2007. He has also featured for Hearts of Lions, Petrojet in Angola as well as Berekum Chelsea in his native Ghana. Photo/COURTESY

Also joining the 13-time KPL champions is Ghanaian striker Eric Bekoe who lands in Nairobi from Ghanaian Premier League side Sekondi Hasaacas.

The 31-year old Bekoe won the Ghanaian Premier League and the domestic cup with Asante Kotoko in 2007. He has also featured for Hearts of Lions, Petrojet in Angola as well as Berekum Chelsea in his native Ghana.

He made his debut for Ghana by coming off the bench in a friendly match against Mexico on March 26, 2008 and played in the first World Cup Qualification games of his country against Gabon and Libya.

Meanwhile, Mule says the club is chasing one more signature of a third choice keeper before closing their transfer business.

“We gave out Mukolwe on loan to Wazito and so we have to get a third keeper. Overall, that should be it for us and I think we have assembled a very strong team which will challenge for titles this season. Nobody should write us off,” the club boss noted.

-Friendly matches-

AFC Leopards team posing for a team photo before the match. Head Coach Robert Matano opted to start with Gabriel Andika in goal in favour of regular Ian Otieno. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Meanwhile, AFC Leopards is looking to play Ugandan champions Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) as well as Sudan’s Al Hilal in friendly matches before their CAF Confederations Cup campaign.

Al Hilal will pitch a 10-day camp in Nairobi from January 29 while KCCA will be in the country on the first weekend of February.

“These will be very good matches for us to gauge ourselves against quality opposition. We have our first league match on February 4 but we want to ask KPL if they can push it so we play these two games. If not, I think we will just play one,” Mule noted.

AFC Leopards start their CAF Confederations Cup campaign on February 10 against Madagascar side FOSA Juniors and the club is waiting on a thumbs up from CAF on the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega before declaring it their home ground.

“We wrote to FKF and asked them whether the CAF inspectors can have a look at Bukhungu and give us permission to use it for our home matches. If they give it an okay that is where we will play. If not we will have to play in Machakos,” Mule noted.

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