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How Matasi rose from rags to a star player worth idolizing in Kabras community

FOOTBALL
By Rodgers Eshitemi and Gilbert Wandera | Dec 19th 2017 | 2 min read
Head Coach Harambee Stars Paul Put (left) hugs Goalkeeper Patrick Matasi after beating Zanzibar in the post penalty matches during CECAFA Senior challenge Tournament final match at Machakos Stadium on Dec 17, 2017. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Growing up in Kabras, Western Kenya, Patrick Matasi endured hardships that come with poverty. After completing his secondary school education in 2009, he ventured into sugarcane farming. But eight years later, the 30-year-old Posta Rangers custodian has become a national hero thanks to his spectacular penalty saves that earned Kenya’s Harambee Stars their seventh Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title.

The reigning Kenyan Premier League goalkeeper of the year blocked three spot kicks after a dramatic, but thrilling 2-2 draw ?nal of 120 minutes against a resilient Zanzibar Heroes on Sunday in Machakos. The heroic display saw him voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as well as the best goalkeeper.

“Saving penalties is not something new to me. I have been “I am delighted with this top form. It has not been a smooth ride to be where I am.” Harambee Stars goalkeeper, Patrick Matasi doing so in training both at club level and the national team,” said Matasi.

 Matasi, who made his senior national team debut on March 23 in their international friendly match against Uganda in Machakos (it ended 1-1), was phenomenal in this year’s Cecafa tournament as he kept ?ve consecutive clean sheets before saving three penalties to hand head coach Paul Put his maiden silverware.

Though this is not the greatest rags-to-stardom story of them all, Matasi’s rise to fame is an inspiring tale, which is quite the opposite of his name’s meaning in Luhya (rags).

After a friend introduced him to West Kenya Sugar FC in 2009, Matasi used the move as a springboard to Kenyan Premier League, where he signed with AFC Leopards in 2010.

“We were impressed with his agility, re?exes and general performance against Sofapaka. That is how we ended up signing him from West Kenya,” Former AFC Leopards assistant coach Eliud Omukuyia said.

“I knew him even before we signed him. He comes from a very humble background, but joining AFC was like his turning point. He became an instant village idol and a role model to the entire Kabras community.” However, Matasi was criticised after he ditched AFC for Posta.

“When you want to ?ourish in your football career, you must have critics. I always tried to remain positive,” said Matasi.

Meanwhile, Harambee Stars players will each receive Sh310,000 after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Zanzibar. Betting company Sportpesa yesterday gave the team Sh3 million during a luncheon held in their honour.

This adds to the Sh5m from Deputy President William Ruto and Sh1m each from governors Mike Sonko and Alfred Mutua. The 37-member team will also receive half of the Sh3 million prize money and Sh10,000 shopping vouchers from Tuskys Supermarket.

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