By BS MULAVI
Robert Matano is back in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) five months after he left champions Sofapaka.
Matano was yesterday unveiled as AFC Leopards coach, a day after veteran tactician Chris Makoha threw in the towel in the face of two consecutive defeats and pressure from fans.
The new coach of AFC Leopards termed the move "a return back home" and, in his no-nonsense manner, promised that he wants to deliver. He has asked fans and club officials to rally behind the team, saying: "It is great to be back to the KPL after five months. To me, coaching Leopards is like going back home, considering that I played for them in my younger days," he said.
On his expectations, Matano said he is determined to reverse the poor start to the second leg and urged all players to cooperate and strive to be disciplined on and off the pitch.
The club’s Secretary General Robert Asembo termed Matano’s appointment as a step in the right direction.
"This is inline with our expectations and vision for the club," he said. Former coach, Chris Makoha, who was at the press conference, said he was glad to be exiting the club and wished the new man success.
Also present at the hand-over ceremony was Leopards Chairman Julius Ochiel, who urged fans to rally behind the team in the remaining matches.
Before joining Leopards, Matano was coach of current KPL champions Sofapaka. He is credited with making history with the club, which he started handling from the Nationwide League three years ago.
Matano won the league in his first season in the KPL and just one year after earning relegation. This achievement saw him earn the coach-of-the-year award last season.
He also led the club to finishing second in a regional tournament held last year in Tanzania, even though it was also the first time for the club to appear at this stage.
Matano is credited with turning around several league sides in the past. In 2007, he took over at World Hope (now Nairobi City Stars) and helped them survive relegation.
He also helped the defunct Kenya Pipeline team to win the League Cup in 2002 as the club qualified to represent the country in the Africa Cup Winners Cup. Matano is well known for his no-nonsense approach and strictness, something Leopards’ players will either have to live with or take a walk.