Tusker FC have won just two of their seven games so far, leaving Robert Matano hanging onto his job but there are a number of factors that have played against them
Tusker FC head coach Robert Matano is still hanging onto his job despite reports that he would be sacked had he lost last weekend’s FKF Premier League clash against Gor Mahia.
Matano had been involved in a war of words with club CEO Charles Gacheru over an ultimatum given to him to either beat Gor or lose his job and even after K’Ogalo ran out 1-0 winners, the ‘Lion’ is still at Ruaraka.
Tusker have not been themselves in the first seven matches of the 2023-24 season and it is not hard to understand Gacheru’s frustrations.
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Gor Mahia coach Jonathan McKinstry has sympathised with his Tusker counterpart Robert Matano who he feels needs to be given time due his past success at the club
Matano’s men have won just two of their seven games, drawing as many, while losing three, including back-to-back defeats. To make matters worse, they have scored just four goals while letting in five.
By contrast, Tusker started with six straight wins last season before losing their seventh and at the same stage in 2022-23, they were top of the table with 18 points, having scored 13 goals while conceding six.
It is why Matano has been under pressure to deliver positive results given the poor start is unlike him. While the veteran tactician will back himself to get Tusker out of trouble, a number of factors have been playing against him.
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Tusker seem to have lost their fluidity this season as they struggle to string passes together and are also sloppy in possession. This is down to the fact that they lack a conductor in midfield following the departure of veteran Humphrey Mieno.
“He [Matano] should just be given time and things are going to be okay,” says former Tusker head coach Sammy 'Pamzo' Omollo. “The only thing that Tusker made a mistake was releasing Mieno. They don’t have his replacement, that was a major problem and why they are suffering.”
“And then [Jackson] Macharia who went to Posta Rangers, they had a very good link with Mieno so that is not there anymore.”
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A number of Brewers fans confronted Matano as he was leaving the player entrance zone, hurling shouts to the extent that ‘the lion’ momentarily struggled to even utter a word.
Mieno and Macharia were among seven players released by Tusker as they sought a new direction after finishing second last season, missing the title by just one point.
While he might have lacked mobility, Mieno had the intelligence to dictate the tempo of the game. He covered the defence while linking up with attack and in his absence, Tusker have lacked control in the middle of the pack, having to rely on crosses in the box.
With a lack of creativity in midfield, Tusker’s strikers have been feeding on scraps with Deogracious Ojok, the club's top scorer last season with eight goals, managing just one so far.
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Matano has also been chopping and changing in attack with Ojok, Ibrahim Joshua, Joseph Mwangi, James Kibande, Shaphan Siwa, and Eric Kapaito interchanging in almost every game.
With that, the team has not benefited from a settled attack, leading to poor output. It is also clear even though still early that Tusker lacks a reliable goal scorer like Gor Mahia’s Benson Omala and will have to spread their goals across the team again this campaign just like last season.
Matano’s cause is not helped by the fact that his side are lacking confidence due to their poor run of form. Belief is a big thing in football and when it is not there, even the best players struggle to produce results.
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“They do not have the confidence, you see a team playing, they do not know how they are going to move forward or defend and that is a big problem,” adds Pamzo.
“Every time you play and you do not win, there is a lot of pressure for the players and coach. It really wears the team down.”
Observers have also pointed to the fact that Tusker made a number of changes to the team and lacked the quality to replace those who departed after losing the title by just one point.
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Kibande, Mwangi, Kapaito, John Byamukama, Chrispinus Erambo, and Fabian Adikiny were the new players signed by the Brewers while goalkeeper Edwin Simiyu was promoted from the youth team.
None of them has set the league alight so far which has added pressure on their coach who must now deliver victory against his former side Sofapaka on Saturday to quieten the noise around him.
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