Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi in action for Posta Rangers back when he was playing for the Kenyan club. Matasi is known by many for his penalty saving heroics. Photo/courtesy

Harambee Stars’ goalkeeper Patrick Matasi has frequented in Kenyans’ conversations both on and off social media after his heroic performance against Senegal on Monday night.

Just like Olunga was the hero in Kenya’s 3-2 win against neighbours Tanzania, Matasi was the hero in the match against the Lions of Teranga. Matasi, who plays for Ethiopia’s St George’s club, saved a penalty in the first half of the match to give outfield players and fans hope that the match’s outcome might favour them.

Saving penalties has always been Matasi’s strength. In fact, prior to the continental tournament Kenyans had expressed their trust in Matasi whenever Kenya will concede a penalty. He however refuted the hopes saying that he cannot guarantee Kenyans that he has their back when it comes to penalties, he also said that goalkeepers have an upper hand when it comes to penalties.

[Read: The third-best rule that Harambee Stars is hanging on]

Kenyans’ hopes in Matasi’s ability to save penalties came about after the goalie saved two penalties during Harambee Stars’ recent friendlies ahead of AFCON. Matasi however said that he will not always be saving penalties for Kenya.

“It will all depend on how I am prepared but in a real sense, other penalties can go in, so Kenyans should stop having hopes that I will always save penalties for the team,” Matasi told reporters in Egypt.

Matasi went ahead to say that he learned on how to save penalties during his time at Posta Rangers, under Zico Otieno. “A penalty is how you normally prepare, when I was at Posta Rangers I used to practice with coach Zedekiah Otieno, and he used to tell me to do this and that and if you look against Madagascar for example, I did what he always told me, but against DR Congo I did what I thought after studying the taker,” Matasi said before AFCON commenced.

As it turns out, Matasi has never forgotten what he learnt from Zico as he studied Senegal’s Sadio Mane twice in the match last night. He was successful in stopping Mane’s first penalty but unfortunately could not stop it the second time despite diving to the right direction.

Matasi’s strength in penalties was witnessed during the 2017 CECAFA finals between Kenya and Zanzibar. The 31 year old was the hero of the day after saving a whopping three penalties to help Harambee Stars lift the trophy. Matasi saved from Zanzibar’s Mohammed Issa Juma, Adeyum Seif and Khamis Makame as Kenya reclaimed the title, winning it for the seventh time.

Harambee Stars still have a chance of making it to the round of 16 and if they do Matasi might be called to save the team once again. It is possible that Sebastien Migne will play defensive and hope for the match to end as a draw and then leave it all to Matasi. Kenyans and Migne know that Stars have a bigger chance of winning a match on penalties with Matasi in goal.

[See also: AFCON 2019 s*******y rankings: Senegal leads as Kenya plummets]

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