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Harambee Stars: Kimanzi explains why he axed Matasi for Ian Otieno

2:50 AM EDT 10/1/19
Patrick Matasi Kenya and Harambee Stars keeper.
The former Mathare United coach speaks to Goal for the first time on why he overlooked the St. George custodian for the friendly

Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi has revealed the reason he opted to drop keeper Patrick Matasi from the squad to face Mozambique.

The former Posta Rangers and Tusker FC custodian was among the surprise exclusions from the squad named by Kimanzi for the upcoming friendly against Mozambique set for Kasarani on October 13.

Matasi, who plays for St. George of Ethiopia, featured for the Harambee Stars at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt and was involved in the recent friendly against Uganda in Nairobi last month.

Besides Matasi, other players who were in the squad against Uganda but did not make the cut are Ayub Timbe, who turns out for Chinese Super League side Beijing Renhe, KCB defender Michael Kibwage, Tusker’s Boniface Muchiri, Francis Kahata of Tanzanian giants Simba SC, and Ulinzi Stars striker Enos Ochieng’.

In the absence of Matasi, Kimanzi opted to recall Ian Otieno who turns out for Red Arrows in Zambia.

“We have a problem in the goalkeeping department and my reason to drop [Matasi] is to have a look at the other keepers we have in our disposal,” Kimanzi told Goal on Tuesday.

“I want to see what the other keepers can offer in the absence of Matasi and to be honest since Afcon Matasi has not been involved regularly with his team as the Ethiopian league is in a break.

“Against Uganda [in the friendly], [Matasi] had a very bad game, he was not in good form and he almost cost us defeat. He has only been training with AFC Leopards to keep fit and you cannot compare his performance with Ian [Otieno] at the moment.

“[Ian} is doing very well in Zambia. I spoke to his coach and he told me the player has been keeping clean sheets since he joined the side. I think it is fair enough to try and test all the keepers we have because it is one area we are struggling as a country.

“[Ian] is keeping clean sheets in Zambia because their league is very competitive and managed professionally. It is the reason why I also called up defender Harun Shakava.

“At Gor Mahia, [Shakava] was not training enough because of the problems they were always facing, go-slows to demand salaries, but in Zambia, Shakava has been training, playing regularly and even his weight has reduced.”

On why he did not call up Timbe, Kimanzi said: “I spoke to the team [Beijing Renhe] and they requested we allow them to use [Timbe] in their next league match. The team is struggling to avoid relegation and they have a match a day before we play Mozambique so they requested we allow him not to come.

“It is very understandable because Timbe is a quality player and I don’t need to watch again to give him a starting role. I am satisfied with what he can offer the team when summoned so it was fair we allow him to help his club.”

The friendly match will be Kimanzi's second game since taking the mantle from Sebastien Migne in August. The players summoned up are expected to start their residential training on October 7.