Kimani says of dreaded striker-turned coach Baraza, as he prepares AFC Leopards to face Sofapaka
AFC Leopards acting head coach Anthony “Modo’’ Kimani and his Sofapaka counterpart John Baraza are seemingly birds of a feather in that they ventured into coaching after both retired from illustrious playing careers.
And while Kimani was an indefatigable defender for Mathare United and later Leopards in the Kenyan Premier League, Baraza was an eccentric striker for Sofapaka who was a nightmare to opposing defence lines with his darting runs and eye for goal.
It is paradoxical that Kimani and Baraza met on the pitch with both reminiscing some fond memories that can turn the current generation of players green with envy.
‘He (Baraza) was one of the strikers I dreaded to mark and if he ever crossed the penalty box then you were assured that you were about to concede a goal. That’s how dangerous he was and I would be more worried with him playing than facing him while on the bench,’’ Kimani said jokingly.
On his part, Baraza gave a standing ovation to Kimani for subjecting him to a torrid time then whenever Batoto Ba Mungu faced the ‘Slum Boys, as Mathare United are colloquially known as.
“Kimani was a rock in defence and you had to devise clever ways to vanquish him first for you to pull the trigger for goals,’’ he said.
Well, this weekend at Mumias Complex, Kimani and Baraza cross swords but not as players but tacticians leading their respective teams to a potentially explosive KPL encounter.
Leopards have punched above their weight since the second stanza of the 2019/2020 KPL kicked off and it will be interesting to watch how they will handle Sofapaka who, according to reports from reliable reports in the club, are planning to give some of their new signings a taste of big-time action to gauge their skills and quality..
One of the signings is the much-talked about teenage prodigy Wisdom Naya whom Batoto Ba Mungu plucked from St. Anthony’s Boys School from Kitale with reports further stating he could be handed a starting place against Leopards.
Nicknamed N’golo Kante after English Premier League side Chelsea swash-buckling French defennsive midfielder Naya, is relishing time at Batoto Ba Mungu’s ranks and although small in size, he has compensated the same with his brilliant football brains with Baraza acknowledging as much.
“Naya can only get better and we keep on encouraging him to express himself on the pitch. I think he is the next big thing in Kenyan football,’’ observed who came short of declaring whether or not the youngster will parade against Ingwe,’’ said Baraza.