We ‘gave’ Gor our win, says Leopards coach Matano
As centre referee Israel Mpaima blew the final whistle at the Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium on Sunday to settle the 82nd Mashemeji Derby at 1-1 stalemate, mixed feelings were running through AFC Leopards coach Robert Matano mind.
Mixed in the sense that Leopards avoided ‘another humiliation after two defeats earlier this season, ‘yet easily threw away’ a possible win to their eternal rivals Gor mahia.
After Captain Musa Mohammed had deflected Samuel Ndung’u’ s shot into his own net to give Ingwe an early lead, Medie Kagere did his routine job whenever the Kenyan giants meets, capitalizing on a Robinson Kamura blunder to restore parity 10 minutes to the breather.
This was the incident that Matano saw their win given away.
“We should have gone home with three points because we were clearly dominating from the start and after that first goal it should have been easier. It’s so unfortunate a defender could not act swiftly in his own box allowing in a very easy goal.
“Those mistakes have no place in a derby, but we will talk about it as we shift focus to our next matches,” told Matano.
He however noted order at the den is now back, and contributed to the draw, a ‘win’ in his other view.
“Look, on paper we were given no chance against them because they have been beating us at their pleasure in the recent past matches. We however showed some character of the real Leopards.
“This is discipline paying off. The players have realized they are playing for a big team hence to me it’s a way of assessing our progress, which I can sum up as a win,” Matano charged.
Gor had hit six goals past Ingwe in the first leg of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) this season and in Tanzania during the Super Cup, three each in the two outings.
According to the former Tusker and Ulinzi Stars tactician, the only main business remaining for the season is to chase a top 10 finish in the topflight.
“The Shield Cup is another different story. We are in the league to finish strongly and we aim to be somewhere in the top 10 when the season comes to an end,” concluded Matano.
Leopards are in the Shield Cup semis, with Vihiga United their only barrier to the finals.
-Let down fans –
Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr congratulated Ingwe for their spirited fight, saying they their position on the KPL log did not matter in the macth.
“Credit to Leopards, they battled hard and frustrated us. They indeed came into the party, enjoyed a good start and fought well to the end.
“I feel disappointed to have let down our fans who expected a big win, though finally it is the Leopards fans who went home happy,” English man Kerr said.
Gor are six points clear of second placed Sofapaka on the log with 44 points, while Leopards are 13 th having accrued 24.
The match, was the last KPL action to be staged at the Nyayo Stadium which has been closed down for renovation for the January 2018 CHAN competition.
Matano hopes his labors of reinventing Leopards will have materialized completely when the two clubs meet again in the 83rd Mashemeji Derby, probably in the same venue next season.
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