Stars are in safe hands with Matasi in control

By Gilbert Wandera: Sunday, May 19th 2019 at 00:30 GMT +3 | Football
Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi against Malawi during friendly match at Moi Sports Centre Kasarani. Sept 11, 2018. [Standard]

Ethiopia-based goalkeeper Patrick Matasi is one of the few players assured of a place in the starting line-up in the national football team Harambee Stars ahead of next month’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

None other than head coach Sebastian Migne made the assurance three months ago when he revealed that the former Posta Rangers and Tusker goalkeeper will always be his first choice.

“He (Matasi) is my first choice goalkeeper and I want to him to get enough rest between now and the time the tournament starts. I do not want to put pressure on him,” Migne said in February.

The Frenchman insisted that all other goalkeepers will only be considered if Matasi is injured.

It is not difficult to see why, Matasi has gained the confidence of the no-nonsense coach.

Matasi has been the favourite between the posts for Stars since December 2017 when he saved two penalties to help Kenya edge out Zanzibar on post-match penalties to be crowned Council for East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) champions.

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Before that, the goalkeeping position was alternating between Matasi and Boniface Oluoch before the former completely took over.

He was therefore a natural choice for Migne who took over for the team’s 2019 qualifier against the fancied Ghana’s Black Stars at Kasarani.

Kenya won the match 1-0 and it is this victory that turned around the team’s fortunes in the tournament as they had lost 2-1 to Sierra Leone in the opening match of the qualifiers under former coach Stanley Okumbi.

During the victory over Ghana in Nairobi, Matasi’s reflexes proved crucial in denying the visitors victory as Stars held on for victory.

Then came the match against Ethiopia away and once again Matasi proved helpful, saving attack after attack as Stars picked a point in Addis Ababa after playing to a barren draw.

He however faltered in the return match against Ghana in March allowing the hosts to score an easy late goal and pick a 1-0 win to finish above Kenya in the group.

That was the only time Matasi had not been at his best in all the qualifiers and naturally he received backing from Migne and fellow players.

At 31, playing at Africa’s biggest stage could not have come at a better time and his experience will play a big role for Stars in Egypt.

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