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Matano rallies AFC fans ahead of CAF sojourn

AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano shouts instructions from the touchline during a Past Kenyan Premier League match Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7- AFC Leopards have already had their first training session at Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium ahead of Sunday’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup tie against Madagascan side Fosa Juniors FC.

The team travelled to Kakamega in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and ahead of the fixture which will be played in the backyard of their ‘traditional home-ground’ head coach Robert Matano has issued a rallying call to fans to back them up on match day.

“Playing in continental football is not a joke and we need the support of the 12th man. Football is about everyone; the players, the coaches the management and most importantly the fans. They have to come, they have to fill Bukhungu and give us that home advantage,” Matano said as he looks ahead to the fixture.

He added; “We know that this is the region where most AFC fans come from and now that this is their team they should come and push us.”

Ingwe will almost be guaranteed of a full blast loud Bukhungu Stadium if anything from last year’s CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is to go by.

And Matano has promised to reward the fans with victory on Sunday, saying his team’s desire is to break the duck and qualify for the Group Stages of the Confederations Cup.

“The first leg is usually very important and we are treating this match very seriously. We have to ensure we don’t concede and most of all win the game to make the second leg easier for us. We are playing at home and we should take that advantage,” Matano said.

AFC Leopards’ Joseph Kuria tussles with KCCA’s Musana Hassan during a friendly match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

The team is yet to taste victory in competitive football this year having started off with a 1-0 loss to arch rivals Gor Mahia in the KPL Super Cup and drew 1-1 with Posta Rangers in their league opener last weekend.

However, the team has enjoyed victories in friendly matches having beaten Ugandan Champions Kampala City Council as well as Sudanese side Al Hilal in their last friendly on Monday.

Matano is pleased with the spirit and motivation of his players and says he is confident they are in a good position to produce a good result on Sunday.

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“The players have been improving with each game and we are a better team now. We have taken our lessons and the new players have also massively improved and gelled well into the team. The only thing remaining is for us to do the work on the pitch,” he said.

Adding; “I cannot say much now; we will do the talking on the pitch.”

Ingwe’s last experience in continental football was in 2014 when they bowed out in the first round after a 4-2 aggregate loss against South Africa’s Supersport United.

This year, Matano is confident of guiding the team into the group stages.

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