Legendary former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said that strikers win you matches but defenders win you titles, a quote that has been severally used in football to signify the importance of the rearguard in football.
KCB head coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno seems to have borrowed heavily from Alex Ferguson as his team kept another clean sheet in their 1-0 win FKF Premier League match on Saturday.
The win means that the league leaders have conceded only once in their opening six matches of the season. Perhaps this explains why they are so hard to beat, having won all their matches so far.
The bankers’ defense led by goalkeeper Joseph Okoth and the center-back pairing of Nashon Alembi and Rama Walumbe has been sensational.
Zico’s side has also been rejuvenated with the form of the club’s left-back David Otieno. Otieno, who joined the Lion’s Den from Mathare United at the beginning of the season, has scored two goals in the league.
He compliments fellow full back and Harambee Stars prospect Baraka Badi, who is defensively minded. Those who have watched Badi play claim that he can rival Manchester United Right Back Aaron Wan-Bissaka when it comes to making tackles.
However, KCB’s playing style is not all about defending. If anything, the solid defense has allowed the club’s attacking players to express themselves.
Unlike in previous seasons, where they depended on the burly Enoch Agwanda for goals, this season, they are getting them from all over the pitch.
Derric Otanga has been the standout player so far. The former Wazito striker has notched three goals in the league. The other forwards have also chipped in with match-winning performances.
Henry Onyago has scored two goals while Agwanda, Simon Abuko and highly-rated former Kenya under 20 striker Reagan Otieno have each notched one. Otieno’s goal came in the recent win against Bidco United last weekend.
With the experience of Zedekiah Otieno, KCB are not only pacesetters in the league but should be considered serious title contenders. Zico knows what it takes to win the league having been on title-winning teams both as a player and coach at Gor Mahia.
The coach has managed to balance between youth and experience to build an exciting team. Most of the starting 11 include little-known players who joined the club at the beginning of the season. Otanga, for example, was released by high-spending Wazito only to score the sole goal against his former employers on December 24.
Veteran midfielder Dennis Odhiambo is one of the most experienced players at the club and despite not playing a lot this season, is telling his teammates to remain grounded.
KCB’s good perfomance can also be attributed to the fact that it is one of the most financially stable clubs in Kenya. The team is owned and sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), the largest bank in East Africa by assets.
The players have largely been unaffected by the ongoing financial crisis, affecting majority of Kenyan clubs where players are going for months without pay.
With all these factors put into place, can Zico lead the club to their first league title in history? That would be a remarkable history for a club that only returned to the top flight in 2018 after being relegated in 2015.
But first things first, they must beat AFC Leopards in their next assignment. Leopards are limping after losing two matches in a row.