Homeboyz wary of Mathare test, Gor aim at Ulinzi
Kakamega Homeboyz youth side head coach, Gilbert Selebwa, has warned his boys they will be facing the toughest test yet since the start of the KPL Under 20 Championship when they take on Mathare United in spite of reaching the semifinals as the only team with a 100 percent winning record.
Speaking to Citizen Digital after their training session on Wednesday afternoon at Nairobi’s Camp Toyoyo Grounds, the former AFC Leopards senior side boss however, expressed optimism his players are ready for the challenge when they take to the pitch in Machakos on Thursday.
“The uniqueness of tomorrow’s clash is that Mathare are playing a similar style to ours, flowing carpet football. Whoever wins the possession battle will be the favorite, so we want to add an element of speed to our play.
“They’ve had an elaborate youth program for long which adds to their advantage because they know each other well, but we have become a unit too in the little time we have trained together,” explained the tactician.
Despite standing out in their previous four games, Selebwa hinted his talented winger, Juma Bakari was not assured his place in the starting line-up as he seeks to forge a cohesive unit as opposed to relying on individual skill.
“You may be surprised to miss Bakari in the first team, he is a great player but we have even better talent that we have not exposed yet,” the tactician who is also a television pundit maintained.
Bakari, the Form Two Mukumu High School student has attracted overwhelming attention since the start of the championship for his prowess in dribbling, providing assists and above all, netting twice.
The coach revealed he used Tuesday’s friendly against Liberty Academy to gauge the squad players he has not used thus far despite losing 2-1.
Homeboyz will be boosted by the return of striker Brian Munyendo who limped off in their group opener and is expected to partner Alvin Mang’eni and Nicholus Musungu up front.
Selebwa feels the change of venue from Toyoyo to Kenyatta Stadium Machakos has its merits and disadvantages for his side.
“If it rains it will be difficult for both teams, they were already getting accustomed to playing on the artificial turf here and natural grass will be different,” he added.
Homeboyz eliminated tricky Sony Sugar in the quarter finals in a 2-1 victory, while Mathare sent AFC Leopards packing 4-1 in a penalty shoot after a barren draw in the regulation time.
Immediately after qualifying for the semis on Sunday, William Muluya, Mathare’s coach, told Citizen Digital he is under no pressure to face any side arguing all teams at this stage are good.
“We go to prepare knowing they are as good as we are. I will leave nothing to chance in training because at this stage you can win or lose even through penalties like did today,” remarked the soft spoken coach who led the team to a third spot finish in the last edition of the competition.
His opposite number Selebwa wants the business done within 90 minutes.
In the other semi; Fredrick Ogot will be leading Ulinzi Stars against Maurice Onyango’s Gor Mahia, in the first game that kicks off at 11am local time (+3GMT) with the Homeboyz versus Mathare game starting at 3:30pm.
The two coaches have assembled physical teams and Ogot will be relieved K’Ogalo will be playing without huge numbers of the vociferous Green Army that has been packing Toyoyo in previous game to reduce the pressure on his junior soldiers.
Striker Joseph Waruinge, Wilson Mwenda and Amos Nondi who all scored as Gor trounced Chemelil Sugar 3-1 are expected to provide goals for K’Ogalo as Alex Sunga who grabbed a brace against City Stars in the quarters and Stephen Mwangi will be the front troops on the opposite end.
The finals are scheduled for Monday at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium with the winner walking away with Ksh500,000. Losing finalist and third placed play-off winners will take home Ksh200,000 and Ksh100,000.
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