Kenya: Migne - Why Matasi is 'My Number One'

20 February 2019

Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi is the first player to be assured of a starting place in coach Sebastian Migne's team at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Migne announced on Tuesday that the 30-year will be his 'number one' at the tournament, and the player has responded by expressing his delight, and assuring Kenyans he will "work twice as hard" so as not to let them down.

Generally, excitement is already building among Kenyan fans as the country prepares to make a comeback to the continental showpiece set for Egypt from June for the first time in 15 years.

"I am excited with the news of my selection. It comes three months before the tournament begins which offers me a chance to physically and mentally prepare," said Matasi.

He further states: "We are yet to sit down as a group and discuss our targets but we are heading there to compete and not participate. We will not let Kenyans down."

In an interesting declaration, Migne also explained Gor Mahia goalie Boniface Oluoch would be Matasi's backup. This despite the experienced goalkeeper exhibiting shaky form in goal in the recent past.

"Concerning (Boniface) Oluoch for example, he will be there (in Egypt) if Matasi is injured," said Migne.

"I want to let Matasi quiet, I do not want to put pressure on him, actually he is the number one, and if something can happen to him, if he is injured, maybe Oluoch can compete because he has some experience but actually I prefer to prepare youth keepers."

Matasi has been Stars' first choice goalie since dislodging Oluoch in 2017 and also seems to be the country's safest pair of hands since the days of Arnold Origi.

His sublime form over the past year saw him keep three consecutive clean sheets during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Ghana and Ethiopia, and also earn him a move to Ethiopian club Saint Georges.

"I am also aiming to win the league in Ethiopia before heading to the Nations Cup. We are currently third at halfway point of the season and I have settled in well," explained Matasi who is in the country on holiday.

Migne, who formerly coached the Republic of Congo, was at pains to explain why he named two goalkeepers attached to Kariobangi Sharks in his latest training camp earlier this week.

"Of course I have two goalkeepers from (Kariobangi) Sharks (Jeff Oyemba and Brian Bwire) for this time, I didn't find another good goalkeeper based in Nairobi at this time and it was difficult to bring another keeper from outside (Nairobi)."

Bandari's Farouk Shikalo is another goalkeeper under consideration by Migne, who is mandated by the tournament rules to name a squad of 23 players, including three goalkeepers, in his squad to compete at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

In spite of consistent frustrations mainly occasioned by delays in his monthly salary, the French trainer has started preparing his team to compete at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and the 2020 Africa Nations Championship qualifiers set to commence in a few months' time.

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