By ROBIN TOSKIN
AFC Leopards have been boosted by return to training of Eric ‘PPO’ Masika and midfielder Floribert Ndayisaba with Mahmoud Abbas, who is rivaling psychic Octopus Paul (RIP), offering goalkeeper Patrick Matasi hope he would grow into a cock.
“It happened to me after Gor Mahia beat us 3-2 in Malawi. People started asking why and how I conceded goals against Gor yet I had kept clean sheets, including beating K’Ogalo 2-0 in the league. I had to run away to Mombasa to escape the wrath of fans,” Abbas said.
“My words may have sounded harsh to the boy, but I think it was even harsher to bench him against Western Stima. He will grow into a cock. He does not have to hang his head in shame. If you fear losing then you are not a sportsman.”
Matasi, signed from West Kenya Sugar, two seasons ago is Leopards’ number one goalkeeper, but has been hit by a stomach virus but coach Koops remains hopeful he would be available for the Eternal Derby, which has been brought forward to Saturday.
Coach Jan Koops said from their Mumias camp that the team is ready to put behind a harrowing two weeks to keep their title ambition steaming.
“Masika trained today very well and without pain on his hamstring,” Koops said.
“And Tambwe (Ndayisaba) too is responding very well after a bout of malaria. All is well now in the camp and everyone is focused not only for the derby, but also the other matches.” AFC Leopards camp has been rocked following their 2-1 loss to Western Stima, which has seen them relinquish KPL leadership to Tusker, who beat KCB 2-0 on Monday.
Fans expressed displeasure with what they felt was half-hearted performance by their stars.
While calling for more fan support Koops urged both sets of fans to make Saturday a memorable day.
“This derby is a very good thing for Kenyan football. I like the intensity and the atmosphere it generates and fans owe it to themselves and the nation to make it unforgettable occasion.”
Asked about Gor Mahia’s relaxed approach to the game while they have been holed up in a training camp in Mumias, Koops said: