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AFC Leopards head coach Antony Kimani passing instructions during a past training session. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Football

Kimani hopes to sign out with Derby victory as Aussems arrives to take charge

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 07 – Anthony Kimani will once again step down from the role of AFC Leopards head coach after Sunday evening’s Mashemeji Derby against arch rivals Gor Mahia for another foreign coach, this time being Belgian Patrick Aussems formerly with Simba SC.

Kimani has been at the helm of Ingwe since Thomas Tuchel, another foreigner he stepped down for, left the role citing frustrations and apparent threats.

But, as he prepares to do what has now become like a norm for the former skipper, Kimani wants to sign out on a high, and nothing could be higher than picking three points at the Mashemeji Derby.

“I feel that our biggest undoing in this match before has been the mental aspect. We have not been strong enough mentally to see off the games. We have not believed in ourselves enough to give them a good run for their money but I am sure this time round, they will face a different team,” a confident Kimani told Capital Sport.

He added; “The results we have been posting through the season is a good indication that we have a good team which is always willing to give their level best to on the pitch and I am pretty sure they are going to do the same on that day,” the coach added.

AFC Leopards has not beaten Gor Mahia in the derby since 2016 and have lost 10 of their last 11 encounters. But, Kimani is keen on changing this narrative, especially looking at how his team has performed.

Leopards have won three games on the trot after bouncing back from back to back losses and will be keen to get one of their eternal rivals who have blown hot and cold this campaign.

“It’s massive because we are trying to create some sense of consistency and that has been our undoing previously. At times you will win ugly as our last game against Posta but what is important is the three points. The belief and confidence has been re-instilled in the team and it is at the point where we want it to be,”

“The run is positive in that it ensure we are in good frame of mind and our confidence levels are high heading into the derby. If you want to play against a good team such as Gor Mahia, you have to make sure your confidence is up,” Kimani added.

Ingwe are sitting fourth in the standings with 18 points off eight matches, five behind league leaders Tusker. A win, their fourth in a row will move them into third beyond Wazito, a real morale booster for their title hunt that has backfired for the last 23 years.

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One player that will be crucial for AFC in their hunt for a win is striker Elvis ‘Machapo’ Rupia who has been in sensational form scoring 10 of AFC’s 13 goals this season.

Rupia will be the centre of attention as AFC look to overturn the Mashemeji heartache and Kimani equally believes he has been an integral part of the team and hopes he can be the same on the ‘red letter day’.

“He is a very important player not just on the pitch but in the locker room as well. He is a player who is always there to try and motivate the young lads, give advice on their conduct on and off pitch. Besides the goals he scores, he also makes sure the young boys stay focused. He is a very important player for us and we hope we can keep him for as long as we can,” stated the tactician.

For the first time, the match will be played behind closed doors due to the restrictions put by the government to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

Kimani admits it will be a different experience for the players, but maintains they will be up for victory nonetheless.

“It will be different for the players because I understand the role fans play in football to always create the atmosphere and I am sure the boys will miss the push they get from the fans. We will also miss the pomp and color that they always give in the derby but for us we know that we have to get the job done whether fans are there or not so that’s what we will focus on to ensure that we play very well and get a good result,” noted the tactician.

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