Hall pledges to awaken sleeping giants AFC Leopards
Newly appointed AFC Leopards head coach John Stewart Hall has pledged to restore the team to its former glory as he settles down to manage the sinking Den for an initial period of two years.
Speaking at the club’s headquarters in Nairobi during his official presentation to the media on Monday, the Briton acknowledged the task ahead was difficult but expressed confidence in delivering trophies at the 12-time domestic champions.
“It is a big honour to be selected among 49 coaches who wanted the job. I know Leopard’s history and where they are today, they are like sleeping giants. I want to resurrect the dead giants and the the club fans can afford a smile again,” the former Azam FC tactician promised.
He however, warned Ingwe faithful to be patient as he embarks on repairing the tattered reputation of the club that has sunk to the depths of despair this season.
“Do you expect a title next season from a club that 13th on the log? We have talked and set realistic goals. We are very positive next season will be different but we have to be realistic,” Hall offered.
He underscored the challenge in Kenya will be different from the one he faced in Tanzania with ‘Moneybags’ Azam, whom he led to 2015 Cecafa Kagame Cup glory.
“In Tanzania the mission was to end the tale of Simba FC and Yanga FC which had dominated the local scene all the years, which I managed. Here I’m tasked with restoring Ingwe’s supremacy in Kenya and the entire region.
“It is pitiful to see a club of this calibre languish in the position it is perched in the league,” Hall, who revealed he can give instructions in Swahili added.
-Technical bench overhaul –
Hall will have a free hand in choosing his technical bench, club chairman Dan Mule confirmed after the team that was led by interim boss, Ezekiel Akwana was shown the door over the weekend following their 3-2 humbling by relegation threatened Sofapaka FC in front of Hall who watched from the stands.
“He started his duties on Monday morning and will continue until the end of the season as he finds his suitable assistant, team manager and goal keeper’s trainer.
“I can confirm we parted ways with Akwana on Saturday and we are looking forward to help the coach pick his team independently,” Mule remarked.
The arrival of Hall he added will be the end of managerial revolving door at the Den as they seek a journey back to the Promised Land as he compared their new boss as the Biblical Moses.
“That is why he came before the end of the season, so that he prepares well and gets the house in order before the 2017 campaign. We thank God we are safe from relegation so the business ahead is focusing on next season.
“He will be here to stay, and after the two years he can choose to be with us until he retires,” the chairman underscored noting with concern the team has been through nine coaches in four years.
Hall declined to comment on his predecessor, Belgian Ivan Jacky Minnaert who was sacked in September but did observe the players lacked passion on Saturday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, something he undertook to work on.
“Every coach has his own way of doing it but I need to address it. The players played as if they were resigned even before the match. We will have known who will go and who remains by November 19 when the league ends and I will give my recommendations to the Executive Committee,” the coach told.
Besides taking charge of the first team, Hall will also supervise Ingwe’s youth structures as the club aims at having a continuous stream of talent coming through its ranks.
“I worked as the Director of Birmingham academy for eight years and I developed a massive number of players that I watch playing in English Premier League and other elite European leagues to date.
“I love developing young players and we have agreed we develop a strong academy to feed our junior and later senior team, a philosophy I believe in in,” the Briton emphasised.
Hall told the gathering he ditched Sofapaka after only a week of his appointment in 2012 due the frustration that was sparked by cash flow problems the team was going through.
He faces a baptism of fire on Saturday when he leads Leopards to take on league leaders Tusker FC where defeat will hand the Brewers a first title since 2012.
Victory will open the door to arch rivals Gor Mahia to retain the crown for the fourth year in a row when they play Tusker on the closing day of the season provided they also get maximum points.
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