Matano drilling Tusker to stop “experienced” Artar Solar
Tusker FC head coach Robert Matano says their CAF Champions League preliminary round opponents Artar Solar of Djibouti have experience as their main strength with most of its players in their prime.
Matano says Tusker must be in their best shape physically and mentally to overcome Solar, whose ambitious owners are keen to make them a formidable force on the continental front.
Speaking in Mombasa where Tusker have pitched a one-week camp ahead of the September 11 away clash in Djibouti, Matano expressed confidence his charges will be ready for the task going by their preparations so far.
“I have seen them, I’ve been monitoring what they are doing. They have a very experienced squad because the youngest is 25 years and they have big names. That however cannot be a reason to deny us a win. In fact that’s a motivation to us, knowing the high level they have played so that we face them with the seriousness they deserve,” said Matano.
Matano is also happy to have tested his players against national team Harambee Stars on Saturday, in a friendly at the MISC Kasarani which they lost 1-0.
“It gave me a lot of insights because we had not trained as a team after the season knowing that we have new players we had not trained with before. Playing against Harambee Stars who are in camp – the best players in the country – and losing by a solitary goal tells you where we are. Mind you some of our players are in the same national team,” Matano noted.
The lone goal was scored by Boniface Muchiri, who also plays for the Ruaraka brewers.
Assistant captain Humprey Mieno has little information about Solar, but is confident of a good start when the two sides collide in Djibouti on September 11.
“With the likes of Song and these other players it makes it a good team and a difficult opponent for us but the most important thing is that when you are on the pitch it is 11 versus 11,” Mieno said.
Both Matano and Mieno underscored the importance of the Mombasa camp, after a grueling season with little time to prepare for the continentals.
“It is very important to have a session like this as we have new players who need to be quickly integrated in the team before we get to the competition. We need to bond well and this is a good opportunity away from our usual environment,” Mieno opined.
However, the widely travelled midfielder concedes there is risk of fatigue in the squad, calling for clever management of players going into the new season.
“It is very difficult, coming from a tough season which had congested fixtures – like two matches every week and now continuing with almost no break. I however hope the management and the technical staff understands this because sometimes fatigue might creep in and take a toll on the players. I however hope everyone will be fine as we take this forward,” he explained.
Captain Eugine Asike, Muchiri, Jackson Macharia and Henry Meja are not in the Mombasa camp, as they are part of Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee’s squad in camp preparing for the Kenya versus Uganda World Cup qualifier set for Thursday at the Nyayo Stadium.