Zapata wants Leopards to give youth a chance

Former AFC Leopards coach Rodolfo Zapata has urged the incoming club management give youth a chance to showcase their talent. Zapata, who left the den in September last year after five months at the helm, has tipped the club to end their two-decade Kenyan Premier League trophy drought should they integrate rookies in their starting line up.

The Argentine, who decamped to Botswana champions Township Rollers after terminating his contract with Ingwe had elevated several young players to the starting team a move which paid dividends as he transformed them from relegation candidates to title contenders.

Notable players who enjoyed playing time under the stylish coach are Ezekiel Owade, Yusuf Mainge, Saad Musa, Marvin Nabwire and Moses Mburu.

And with the club angling for polls, although currently engulfed in controversy, Zapata observed that the club must put the right people at the helm, devoid of politics if they are to challenge rivals Gor Mahia’s dominance.

“Before I left Leopards, I had instilled my philosophy of roping young players into the team. When I joined the club, they were languishing in the relegation zone but within five months, we had scaled to the top three. I urge the club to embrace and give young players the opportunity to play and I can assure them trophies will come,” said Zapata. “There are no shortcuts and miracles in football. I have heard that they are heading to the polls and the delegates should have the interests of the club at heart and elect visionary leaders. The exercise should not affect the players’ plans for pre-season.”

Zapata, who won the league in his first season in Botswana, revealed he has received numerous offers to return to management. The tactician surprisingly cut his ties with Rollers despite winning the league with immediate reports suggesting that former Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr was warming up to fill his shoes. Kerr terminated his contract with South Africa’s Black Leopards despite helping them escape the drop.