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Zapata out to break Ingwe’s 20-year title wait

Newly appointed AFC Leopards coach Radolfo Zapata during a team training session at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on April 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25- Argentine Radolfo Zapata becomes coach number 14 for AFC Leopards in four years and just like his 13 predecessors, he has arrived preaching the same gospel of breaking the long wait for the club’s 14th Kenyan Premier League title.

Speaking to Capital Sport, the tactician believes that AFC has the right quality to vie for this season’s league title despite being seven points behind leaders Gor Mahia with two more matches played.

“The league is still open and step by step, we need to continue working hard because I believe we are in the right way. We need to correct some details, improve in a lot of aspects and that is my job. I accepted the challenge because I saw the quality players we have and I think we stand a chance, but we need to go step by step,” the tactician said.

Zapata, previously with Botswana’s Gaborone United arrived in the country last Friday but will not be in charge of the club until May 1, but has attended training sessions to continue his assessment of the team.

“I came here because this is one of the biggest teams in Africa. I have seen some of their games this season, and I saw that I can come here and we do something big. I have experience working in Africa and I am very pleased to be here,” he added.

AFC Leopards forward Ezekiel Odera poses with his March SJAK Player of the Month Award alongside new coach Radolfo Zapata and outgoing coach Dennis Kitambi on April 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

AFC Leopards last won the league in 1998 and they have come close on several occasions, but they are yet to hit the right notes.

Zapata has confided that he will not change much of Dennis Kitambi’s ideologies at the club with the Tanzanian set to leave on May 8 for a new adventure in Bangladesh with his former coach Stewart Hall.

“I have seen what the coach has done and it is something good. I will not change much because I like that style of play. We will only change a few details and I need to see the players more in training so I know their abilities,” he added.

He has also admitted that the Kenyan Premier league is competitive compared to his previous assignments having watched a few league matches over the weekend.

“Everyone wants to win and the pressure is always there. But the secret is to always play better than the opponent and that is what we will embark to do,” he said.

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Newly appointed AFC Leopards coach Radolfo Zapata and fitness trainer Mike Shamiah during a team training session at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on April 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

He added; “I have watched some of the games and the first problem I noticed is that we concede a lot of goals. I will need to analyze why that happens and then get a solution. I am sure we will be a great team and hard to beat.”

Outgoing coach Kitambi also believes that the team has the ability to vie for the title and believes Zapata will be a good bet to lead Ingwe into the promised land.

“The last person to win the title for AFC was Tanzanian and I hope I can leave that good luck charm with the team. They have what it takes and if you look at the table, it is a possible mission for them,” the Tanzanian noted.

He will be on the stands on Wednesday afternoon as Ingwe takes on Kariobangi Sharks in Thika while his first match in charge will be a baptism of fire when he faces Gor Mahia in the Hull City challenge play-off on Labor Day in Nakuru.

“Derbies are always exciting but I know we have the ability to do well because when a team has a new coach, every player wants to work hard to impress him. I know they will all be playing well to impress me,” Zapata further stated.

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