Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno took over as the interim coach of Kenyan Premier giants Gor Mahia following the resignation of Englishman Dylan Kerr last week Thursday.
The 49-year-old’s immediate task is to sharpen K’Ogalo ahead of next Wednesday’s CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg match against Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi.
Zico will resume preseason today (Tuesday) in Nakuru County where they will play league newbies KCB FC in friendly before they return to the capital in time for the crucial encounter.
The coach is not new to the seat he is currently warming, he fully sat on it, leading a very youthful Gor Mahia side to a second place finish in the 2011 KPL race before being dismissed for alleged divided attention.
The German-trained gaffer, who skippered K’Ogalo to the 1995 KPL glory, was then doubling up as the national team coach.
During the stint, he was accused by a section of fans of failing to instill discipline within the squad and favored certain players who were assured of game time even if they missed training.
“I’m not the same person I was then, I have now grown and become a better person and a professional,” Zico told Kahawa Tungu as he dismissed the allegations as untrue.
“I do coaching full time, I don’t have any other job apart from coaching, so as a professional, which I believe I am, I strive to remain so in my daily work.
“No way I can field a friend and leave a good player who has trained the whole week on the bench, and as coaches we don’t relate with players at personal levels.”
Zico played as a defender in his heydays and this has reflected in his present work as a coach.
In most cubs he has handled previously, including Sony Sugar and Posta Rangers, his main strength has been in his ability to craft impermeable backlines.
Uganda Cranes fans loathe him for denying them a historic 2013 Afcon qualification. On a day they needed just a win to sail through, Zico styled a defensive outfit that forced a painful barren draw in Kampala to crush the dream.
This has got a section of the K’Ogalo fans worried as they are used to celebrating many goals in a match, not slim wins which Zico’s managed sides have been known to churn out.
Zico, however, wants things to be put into perspective; he says you must fashion your style of play depending on quality within your squad and your opponent’s strengths.
“You don’t expect me to sit back and defend with the quality within Gor Mahia, when you have players like Blackberry (George Odhiambo), Francis Kahata, Kenneth Muguna…you must attack.
But if you are facing Gor Mahia for example as a Sony Sugar coach you must be cautious and hit on the counter.
As a coach you design a system depending on the quality you have and strengths of your opponent.”
Zico rejoined Gor Mahia in 2017 and briefly took charge of the team when Brazillian Ze Maria left for Albania’s KF Tirana.
He says he’s comfortable handling the team but does not make the call on who becomes the head coach.
“I’m comfortable because I have been here before. I know the pressure that comes with coaching a big club like Gor Mahia but I’m now used to it.
I worked with Ze Maria and Dylan Kerr so depending on what the management wants I’m always open.”
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