NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13- Sunday’s 2-1 loss at home at the hands of Premier League leaders Tusker FC delivered a blow to Ulinzi Stars’ title hopes as they fell eight points behind pace.
Following up hot on the heels of their second leg opener 1-0 loss to fellow title hopefuls Mathare United, the military side’s hopes to fight for a fifth league title all but started fizzling out after the loss.
However, with 13 matches left before the curtains fall on the 2016 season, Ulinzi are not just about to let go of their hopes of fighting for the title and breaking their five year wait for a domestic trophy.
Speaking to Capital Sport, goalkeeper and captain James Saruni says the side has not been impressed with the results over the last two matches, but remains calm and optimistic they will bounce back in a big way beginning with this weekend’s tie away to City Stars in Nairobi.
“It has not been easy for us because in both matches. We have played well but failed to get the results. It is painful especially losing to fellow title contenders. Our biggest problem has been finishing because we create many chances but fail to make use of them,” a dejected Saruni said.
He hopes the strikers can pull up their A game as they seek to pull to within striking range of the title.
“We have not lost hope at all. This is football and sometimes these things happen. I am confident we have the ability to bounce back. Everyone is angry that we are dropping points and hopefully, we can translate this anger on the pitch,” opines the former Mathare United custodian.
Ulinzi will not find it easy either against City Stars, a side fighting with all its venom to lift itself from the drop zone. Saruni reckons it will not be an easy match, bearing in mind the Kawangware based side has been one of their bogey teams in the league.
Robert Matano, seeking for a third league title with a third different team is expected to welcome back into the team striker Stephen Waruru who has not been available for the last two matches despite marking a return in the KPL Top 8 matches against Muhoroni Youth.
Also expected back for the City Stars duel is defensive kingpin Omar Mbongi who had been on a week-long leave.
In Mbongi’s absence, Ben Sande has been tasked with holding forte and though he hasn’t been as bad, the former’s absence with his experience and resilience has been hugely felt at the Ulinzi backline.