Familiar panic bell rings loud at Leopards lair as Kitambi exit nears


Familiar panic bell rings loud at Leopards lair as Kitambi exit nears
(FILE)AFC Leopards led by scorer Ezekiel Odera celebrate a goal during their Kenyan Premier League match at Awendo Green stadium in Migori County on March 04, 2018. AFC Leopards SC won 2-0. Photo/Kelly Ayodi/Sportpicha

In Summary

  • Despair and disbelief has engulfed AFC Leopards playing unit as caretaker coach Dennis Kitambi's exit date nears.
  • Kitambi, who had struck a rapport with the playing unit with Leopards regaining their spots under his stewardship, is poised to part ways with the club on May 8, joining mentor John Stewart Hall in Bangladesh.

Despair, disbelief and pain has engulfed AFC Leopards playing unit as caretaker coach Dennis Kitambi’s exit date nears.

Kitambi, who had struck a rapport with the playing unit with Leopards regaining their spots under his stewardship, is poised to part ways with the club on May 8, joining mentor John Stewart Hall in Bangladesh.

During the brief spell that he called the shots at Leopards dug-out, the big cats came to life with the playing unit exhibiting calmness  on the pitch, something that has been attributed to the man-management skills of the soft-spoken Tanzanian.

Understandably, the players who had looked unto him are crestfallen after the management’s efforts to talk him out of his move fell flat.

While Ingwe was struggling to write anything positive under the fiery Robert Matano , who despite recruiting heavily in the pre-season failed to get the most out of the players, Kitambi was keenly watching the gaps that were causing their troubles, but with no say as an assistant to the ‘big boss’.

FC Leopards SC interim coach Dennis Kitambi finstructs his charges against Sony Sugar FC during their Kenyan Premier League match at Awendo Green stadium in Migori county on March 04, 2018. AFC Leopards SC won 2-0. Photo/Kelly Ayodi/Sportpicha

But hardly had he picked over than the results, largely driven by the  camaraderie and the relaxed demeanour of his boys on the pitch, began to manifest for all in sundry.

Since that 2-0 win over Sony Sugar at the Awendo Green Stadium on March 4, in his first match in charge, when Matano was suspended, Kitambi has only lost to Tusker, winning the rest of the matches thus sticking in the top-three in the Kenyan Premier League table.

Evidently, with the record against the recent struggles, a section of players concede that a blurred future  beckons without the Tanzanian.

“One of our undoing as a club has been proper coaches for some time now. We had some terrible time under Matano, whose ideas were always conflicting those of players. When he (Kitambi) came, he allowed a comfortable environment for us to express ourselves on the pitch and the results were instant.

“It is difficult to accept he is going because we were on the verge of challenging for the title, but hopefully, whoever comes after him will carry on the good work,” a player who sought anonymity told Citizen Digital after their Saturday’s 2-2 stalemate against Zoo Kericho.

According to Kitambi, coaches and players are never permanent elements in clubs, thus his wish to remain could not overshadow the will to advance his career.

“The club’s management has done everything possible for me to stay, but time has come for me to go. The new offer is not about money, it’s about more exposure and growth. Money cannot buy everything, money cannot buy exposure,” Kitambi said, acknowledging Leopards’ determination to better his terms was wholehearted.

He has however advised a careful choice of his successor, with the hiring process in progress.

“A team philosophy and culture is very important. I was still in foundation process of my philosophy, and it is has been working though a lot has was yet to be achieved. The best thing the management can do is getting a person who can continue with the work we have been doing, saving the young philosophy,” Kitambi said.

One of his major concerns is the defence-line that has been annoyingly porous, soaking in 18 goals in the current campaign.

“I don’t know what to say.I have time and again re-looked how we have been conceding, it is almost unexplainable. It is something we have to address keenly and hopefully it will be better before I hand over the coaching role.

“Goalkeeping has been an issue though some of the mistakes that have cost us are so casual, like today’s (Saturday) second goal against Zoo,” he concluded.

Club chairman Dan Mule was coy to reveal who is taking over from Kitambi, but affirmed the incoming tactician will be arriving before May.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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