By Robin Toskin
Robert Matano’s bitter-sweet love affair with Kenyan Premier League champions, Sofapaka, has come to an end and Ugandan Sam Ssimbwa will take over effective March 27.
Sofapaka President Elly Mboni Kalekwa announced on Thursday that the club has opted not to renew Matano’s contract, a man whose "take no prisoners" approach to the game of football has drawn comparisons with former Manchester United captain and now Ipswich coach, Roy Keane.
But even as the Sofapaka President Kalekwa dropped the axe, he paid glowing tribute to the man who thrust him and his side to the limelight by winning the KPL on the first time of asking.
"We want to put it on record that Matano’s hard work and vision brought unrivalled success to Sofapaka. We want to wish him our best wishes in his new endeavours," Kalekwa told FeverPitch.
Kalekwa was, however, quick to say Matano had not been sacked but that "we are not just going to renew his contract."
"He remains part of Sofapaka family and to demonstrate that the club will give him a cheque as a token of appreciation as his contract expired at the end of last year," Kalekwa said.
Contacted, Matano said he was leaving Sofapaka a proud man given his record of three trophies (KPL, DSTv/SuperSport Champions Cup and the Nationwide League title).
"Mimi ni simba. Sio fisi (I am a lion. Not a hyena)," Matano said adding he was grateful to Sofapaka President for his belief in him.
"I would be worried if my exit was because of not performing. But with all that I achieved at the club including exiting honourably to Egypt’s Ismailia in continental cup, the best thing is to wish whoever is coming in the best and hope those who will be near him be honest and not hypocrites," Matano said.
Asked whether his exit is related to recent turmoil in the club that has seen the champions win one, lose twice and drawn the other, Matano said:
"I am not sure. Like every institution, a time comes when they need to move to the next level and may be that is the bigger picture Sofapaka are pursuing."