Leopards next mission for giant-slaying Vihiga in GOtv Shield
Vihiga United Head Coach Edward Manoah says the National Super League (NSL) side is under no pressure ahead of their GOtv Shield semis showdown against domestic giants AFC Leopards on Sunday.
Vihiga is the only second-tier club that reached the last four but Manoah is adamant their underdog tag means nothing as the side that spectacularly knocked out holders Tusker FC in the quarters embarks on another giant-slaying act.
So assured of his side’s credulity as a true contender at the Cup competition that Manoah claimed he will in fact rest some of his finest stars against the Leopards to preserve them for NSL action in the subsequent weeks.
“We have to get our priorities right. We have a number of tough league matches and we need to have a fully fit and ready team for these games.
“That does not mean our chances in the Shield are in any way slim, knockouts are difficult to predict and anything can happen, just like we surprised many by winning against Tusker,” Manoah, whose side lead the NSL log on 58 points, charged.
Former Leopards and veteran midfielder Charles Okwemba will miss the clash due to injury, alongside Kevin Mugone, Jacob Atinda and Amos Kigadi who are also injured.
Their Cup top scorers Christopher Masinza (4) and Dennis Lugalia (3) are however available for selection.
Leopards enter the clash on the back of an inspiring 2-0 in Wednesday’s Kenyan Premier League clash against Thika United and will be looking to send Vihiga parking in order to keep alive their only realistic chance of silverware this season.
Coach Robert Matano knows defeat in the hands of Vihiga will dampen mood at the Den, and will only magnify the sequence of inconsistencies that have been the highlight of their 2017 campaign.
“I always go to matches to win. Players have to think about winning first before they think which team they are playing, especially when people suggest your opponent is a weaker one.
“This is a fundamental principle, whether it is a league match or a knockout tournament match,” Matano said.
Team Manager Gilbert Selebwa is confident in the preparedness of his charges but warned Vihiga should not be underrated.
“They are capable of winning this game, we saw how they played against Tusker and so we have to be at our best to beat them. Our boys know our aim is to win this title and we will approach the match like a final,” Selebwa said.
In the other semis clash, Kariobangi Sharks lock horns with Sony Sugar in their third meeting of the season.
Coach William Muluhya’s Sharks won their first KPL meeting in Machakos 2-0, before settling for a barren stalemate in the return leg.
His opposite number Salim Babu therefore has an opportunity to get one over Muluhya, but has to an uphill task to stop a side that currently third in the KPL, seven places above the Sugar Millers.
They have not tasted defeat since August 5 when they lost 2-1 to Kakamega Homeboyz.
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