12 Feb, 11:15
Robert Matano was an instant superstar and hero, maybe tactician par-excellence last season. The Lion, entered uncharted territory and delivered the Leopard to winning the 2017 GOTV season. A surprise by any standards.
That was 2017. Less than 9 months into the job, his second stint at the Den, the tactician is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the writing was on the wall, then the first letters were painted during the December - January transfer window. While the club embarked on a recruitment season, sourcing for the best talent in and out of the country, Matano went out for familiar faces. Well, his cronies maybe.
As he floated names of potential signings to the club supremo, so did he attract more criticism. In fact, he threatened to step down if the players he had proposed were not signed. Never mind the fact that some, were well past their sell by date. The fans, stood by his side. Matano was untouchable.
Gor Mahia loss
The season got underway in the best way possible; a Super Cup contest against bitter rivals Gor Mahia. At a club where entropy reigns supreme, Matano played down the importance of this contest. His side, rightfully so, lost the battle. To Matano, the war was still on. His best artillery was yet to be unleashed.
Then came Posta. Then FOSA Juniors. For a club that devours its own season after season, Matano should have know that these two contests, could be defining moments for his career. Against FOSA Juniors, Leopards were hyped as the firm favourite, and the fans even dreamt of a double digit scoreline. Instead, the team produced a performance that was like a 90-minute funeral for the Matano era. Ingwe were meek, FOSA the more adventurous.
Slowly, Matano’s preseason sins started haunting him. Save for one or two players, the rest of his acquisitions in the transfer window were predictably terrible. Last season’s departures certainly putting up a strong case to justify their worth in the team; Maybe saying loudly - You booted out good men.
If there is something efficient in the Leopard’s Den, then it is their hing-less revolving door. It is early in the season, but there are all signs that AFC Leopards is entering the so-familiar parabola of decline. They have already lost one title -The KPL Super Cup- and their CAF Confederations Cup chase has petered out. Matano’s time is coming to an end, in a way or another.
Questions have also emerged on the tactician’s training regime. Initially, he demanded to have the strength and conditioning coach dismissed as his role, was undefined. After being held by FOSA Juniors on the weekend, there was an accusation that some players had become bored with his training regime.
In his defense, Matano’s charge sheet states that the players have been lacklustre and failed to execute his tactics.
Really, though, Matano should bear the blame for a lacklustre start to the season. Although they might try to put up a brave face amidst the angst from the fans, the club supremo will certainly be plotting a silent upheaval early in the season.
While he was expected to prescribe local medication to local problems, Matano has been shooting himself in the foot, and even committed more blunders than his predecessor Stewart Hall.
Another one down
It is that time when the Leopard has to devour its own, and this time, Robert Matano has presented himself for the feast.