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If NEC want me out, I will leave – Zapata

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AFC Leopards head coach Rodolfo Zapata watches from the touchline during a past Kenyan Premier League match. Photo/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Embattled AFC Leopards head coach Rodolfo Zapata says he is ready to leave the club if the National Executive Committee (NEC) is not impressed with his work, but notes he will not throw in the towel just yet.

The tactician has been under pressure with the team dwindling in fortunes, the Sunday defeat to Sofapaka in the SportPesa Shield piling more pressure on the Argentine and Wednesday’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Tusker FC in a league fixture sinking the knife deeper.

“I will have a meeting with the Executive Committee to analyze the season and see what we need to do in the team and what’s better for us. If they think the coach is the problem then, it’s okay, I will go, but I think the problem is much deeper,” the tactician told Capital Sport.

The loss to Tusker on Wednesday evening in Machakos was AFC’s fifth in six games further compounding the coach’s pressure and worse was that the players never gave even an ounce of effort to try and salvage their season.

The body language of AFC Leopards players before their Kenyan premier League match against Tusker FC in Machakos on September 27, 2018 was not the best. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

A handful of fans who had travelled for the early afternoon midweek kick-off did not hide their emotions, some calling for the coach’s sacking while others asked him to step aside as he was conducting pitch-side interview.

“There is nothing you will tell us. You have to resign,” one of the fans shouted as the tactician spoke.

Zapata arrived in the country in May from Botswana club Gaborone United and notes the five months he has been around is too short a time to make any meaningful change to the club, asking for patience as he drafts out a plan for next season.

“I don’t know… for me the most important is the team. I am here till the season ends because it is just two games. I have a meeting with the executive and we will see what we need to have success next season. I will give an opportunity to all the players and thereafter make a report,” the coach said.

He added; “It is hard to change 20 years of history within five months. I took the team with the players chosen by coach Matano (Robert). I didn’t choose the players. We need to be patient especially with the young players and have a plan.”

“We had done well and we are at third position. We lost in the semi-final of the Shield. I know everyone is angry because no one wants to lose but we have to plan for the future,” he further alluded.

AFC Leopards head coach Rodolfo Zapata in a pensive mood during his side’s Kenyan Premier League match against Tusker FC in Machakos on September 26, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The tactician said the loss against Tusker, their heaviest loss this season was due to lack of motivation following their Shield defeat to Sofapaka on Sunday. He has admitted it was hard to motivate the players after the loss.

“For the first half an hour we played good football and created chances but we could not take them. We ended up making several mistakes including individual performances which were not good. The attitude of the players was not good too and some of our important players are not playing well,” the tactician further stated.

Placed third in the SportPesa Premier League standings with 51 points, Leopards can finish as low as seventh if they lose their last two games of the season. They will travel away to Ulinzi Stars before winding up the season at home to Nzoia Sugar.

Whether or not the tactician remains to be at the helm of the club remains to be seen with some club officials backing him to retain his role and be with the club next season.

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