Sofapaka stalk leaders Tusker in Machakos Derby
Bottom placed Sofapaka FC will be keen to build on last week’s signs of a resurgence in the Kenya Premier League (KPL) as they take on table-toppers Tusker FC in a Machakos Derby on Sunday.
Former striker and assistant coach; John Baraza will be in charge with his boss David Ouma away with Harambee Starlets is seeking a turning point as the 2009 champions seek to beat the drop.
“We are not the same as we were in the first half of the season. We now have experienced players who are able to handle the top tier pressure. Playing the league leaders is not easy but we also know what we want out of the match.
“It’s true Tusker is like another Sofapaka. The key players in the team were my teammates here but this is football. We will be seeking to get points off them just as much as they will keep sentiments aside to get a win,” the soft spoken former KPL Golden Boot winner told Citizen Digital.
In the first leg, Ekaliana Ndolo, who bagged the 2014 Player of the Year Award with Sofapaka before crossing over to the Brewers did not celebrate the winning goal that sunk his former employers.
Captain James Situma, Eugine Asike, keeper David Okello, Collins Shivachi, Danson Kago are other former Sofapaka players who left for Tusker when the team’s financial fortunes dwindled.
Flamboyant club President, Elly Kalekwa is back in the country after a long absence and his comeback has sparked belief in the club’s ranks they can avoid the chop.
“The president’s return has inspired us to work harder. His message to the team on his return was that we are not where we are supposed to be. The aim is that we get out of the relegation before we think of anything else,” the former Harambee Stars forward added.
The 2009 champions have never finished outside the top four since promotion, but the 28-point difference between them and the leaders has odds stuck against them.
Tusker captain Situma, has warned his colleagues against over confidence going into the match.
“They offered a tough challenge in the last meeting. I believe they have improved since that time so you can’t rule them out simply because they are bottom. We will play our game without concentrating on our opponents who are chasing,” he rallied.
Holders Gor entertain struggling Nairobi City Stars also on Sunday with the head coach Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Fereirra showing signs of frustration after his charges dropped four points in their last two encounters that would have clawed the gap at the top from five to a single point.
While the former Brazilian international has blamed poor officiating for limp draws against Kakamega Homeboyz and Ushuru FC, he is yet to settle on his first choice midfield following the mid season departure of lynch pin Khalid Aucho.
The forward pairing of Rwanda captain Jacques Tuyisenge and one of his predecessors; Meddie Kagere has also failed to spark a goal glut. In the opening three games of the second leg, they have looked out of sync further affecting the balance of the team.
“I am not happy. We have some of the best strikers in the league but they are not scoring goals. This is like a contractual job and everyone needs to fulfill their end of the bargain,” lamented Ze Maria after last weekend’s 0-0 stalemate against the stubborn tax collectors.
AFC Leopards face improving Sony Sugar who jumped above them in the standings last weekend on the eve of Sunday’s club elections.
Ivan Minnaert will miss new forward Paul Mungai Kiongera with the team sweating over his strike partner Kepha Aswani after both were hauled off in their 1-1 draw against Mathare United injured.
Ingwe also received a slap in the face when Malian international, Ismail Diarra, who was expected to be their lethal weapon in front of goal backed out of a move to the Den to remain at his Rwandese side, Rayon Sport.
“We want to win every match, that’s the mentality. The players are not part of elections politics so there is nothing to worry about,” coach Minnaert asserted.
Muhoroni Youth’s assistant coach Tom Juma has praised his players for the consistency that has seen the sugar belt club rise to fifth on the log, but urged them not rest on their laurels ahead of their clash with Bandari FC.
“We are not focusing so much on our previous performances, and we cannot judge Bandari with their recent record which has not been the best, we will be miles away but we will give our best,” he added after the team unveiled their new state of art team minibus that will add the swag to their travel.
Muhoroni are tied on 28 points with Ulinzi Stars but the Soldiers have a better goal difference in fourth and fifth.
Robert Matano’s soldiers host Ushuru at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru with his position at the helm said to be under threat following the stagnating challenge to the title.
Mathare who were on the wrong end of an officiating shocker last weekend when Leopards notched the leveller in a 1-1 draw from a clear offside position hope to restart their title charge by beating Thika United.
Chemelil Sugar who also saw a genuine goal chalked off by blundering referees in their 2-2 draw against Tusker are at home to Homeboyz.
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