Matano issues rallying call to fans ahead of Shield final

first_img0Shares0000AFC Leopards fans Mexican wave. PHOTO FILE.NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18- AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano and skipper Duncan Otieno have issued a passionate rallying call to their fans to come out in large numbers on Friday as they play Kariobangi Sharks in the GOtv Shield final at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani.Ingwe has suffered a deficiency of the 12th man push this season especially with the dwindling fortunes in results, but Matano and Otieno have both asked for a final chance to impress, promising they will not disappoint in the final. “We understand the team has not been winning and the fans lack motivation because it is obvious that they want to come to the stadium to see the team win.But they should come cheer us as we try and clinch this trophy. We need their motivation and we can’t do it without the fans coming behind us,” Matano told Capital Sport.His sentiments were echoed by Otieno who said the players have vowed within themselves to do everything possible and ensure they bag the trophy to make up for a disastrous season that has seen them engage in relegation fights.AFC Leopards players celebrate one of their goals against Thika United in a Kenyan Premier League match on September 20, 2017 at the Thika Stadium. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluAFC Leopards last won the Shield in 2013 when they beat arch rivals Gor Mahia 1-0 at the Nyayo National Stadium with Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo scoring the lone goal, but since then, they have endured a frustrating trophy drought.They warmed up perfectly for the final with a 1-0 win over Ulinzi Stars in a Kenyan Premier League match in Nakuru on Tuesday, and Matano says it sets up their confidence perfectly to face Sharks who will be playing in their first ever Shield final.“The motivation is now there because the players have realized their mistakes and have corrected. But a final is a different ballgame altogether and they should double their efforts. We have to go there and win the match,” Matano said.Matano joined the team in July and top on his agenda is to get them back to the top having struggled to imprint its status as one of the best teams in the country, with 13 KPL titles under their wings, though the last came 19 years ago.“We want to bring stability to the club so that we can have somewhere to start from next season. We want this club to get back to where it was before because AFC is a big team,” Matano who alongside assistant coach Tom Juma are both former AFC Leopards players said.AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano speaks to midfielder Duncan Otieno before their game against Gor Mahia in the Mashemeji Derby on August 26, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond MakhayaSkipper Otieno has admitted they have struggled to knit results this season, pointing out to a congested fixture as the main reason their fortunes have been far from convincing.“Sometimes you play a game on Sunday and lose then you have to face another game on Wednesday. Most of the times it has not been easy to recover and re-strategize and also, the element of fatigue creeps in. It hasn’t been a good season for us,” the midfielder who rejoined the club in January from Posta Rangers noted.Save for winning the silverware and end the season on a high, the players are also motivated by the allure of playing in the CAF Confederations Cup next season.“AFC is a big team and we should work hard to get it back to the African map. That is our responsibility as players. Also, plying in the CAF competitions is always a huge motivation for any player because we get the experience of playing at a higher level and also an opportunity to market ourselves,” Otieno further said.Ahead of the final, AFC will miss the services of defender Robinson Kamura who picked up a foot injury last weekend in the club’s 2-0 loss to Posta Rangers in Narok while Ugandan midfielder Keziron Kizito will have a late fitness test.Matano though is confident that despite the absence of the key players they will have enough cover to field a strong, competent squad.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more