NAIROBI, Kenya- If there is one game that carries much weight in Nicholas Muyoti’s coaching career, it is leading his team against fading SportPesa Premier League (SPL) giants, AFC Leopards SC.
Muyoti remains a cult figure at the 12-time SPL champions having played and started his coaching journey at the club and on Wednesday, he will lead his struggling Thika United FC to face Ingwe at Thika Sub-County Stadium keen to do one over his beloved Leopards.
Buoyed by restricting runaway SPL leaders and Leopards arch rivals, Gor Mahia FC to a barren stalemate on Sunday, Muyoti will be taking on his former employers in a must-win encounter that could decide Thika’s fate as a top flight side at the end of the season.
Interestingly, this is the first time Muyoti will be facing Ingwe as head coach on the opposite dugout and he is braced for the challenge.
“This is a new (Leopards) team. They have done an overhaul of the entire playing unit so any prior knowledge I had about them does not count.
“I think this match will be tougher than Gor because they are not in a good position in the league and they are in dire need of the points,” Muyoti told SportPesa News.
Ranked 17th on 22 points, Thika are three points away from safety, creating a siege mentality among the players who are desperate to avoid the chop ahead of the match Muyoti says they ‘must’ claim victory.
“The fact that I’m a Leopards legend does not mean that I should not perform my duty as a coach. I’m a professional and I have to deliver for Thika. The reality is that we are not in a good position in the league. We have shown good progress recently and I believe slowly we are getting there.
“I don’t want to put pressure on the boys because they will crack. We have really struggled to win the matches that we have played here in Thika so we want to try and avoid conceding first. Then we can talk about getting the three points,” the former Kenyan international noted.
The unavailability of skipper Dennis Odhiambo who was injured in the Gor match is a concern for Muyoti but he is confident that collective team effort will make up for his absence.
“Dennis is an important player and his absence is a big blow. He offers leadership but I’m looking forward to other players stepping up. We need to work as a team to get a result in this match,” the optimistic Muyoti underlined.
Ingwe won the reverse tie 2-1 at the same venue with Whyvonne Isuza and Ghanaian Gilbert Fiamenyo scoring on either half. Salim Mzee got the consolation late on.