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Minnaert keeps confidence as AFC land Stima in GOtv round of 16

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AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match-PHOTO/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match-PHOTO/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1- AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert wants his side to continue in the same thumping form they have had over the last three weeks as they seek to reclaim the GOtv Shield title, one they last won in 2013.

Leopards will face off with Western Stima in the round of 16 having beaten Kakamega Homeboyz 2-0 last weekend to progress from the second round.

“We are now playing better. I like how we played on Sunday and it shows there is some progress and hunger in the team. This cup is important to us and we are taking one match at a time,” Minnaert told Capital Sport.

The Belgian tactician has insisted the team has to go all out and win the Shield as he eyes playing in the CAF Confederation Cup next year, a tournament which is a preserve of all domestic cup winners from across the continent.

“Western Stima is not an easy opponent and we respect them plus all other teams we play. But for us, we have to keep the winning mentality and go out there to seek for a win. It is not easy but we have to fight,” the tactician offered.

Defending champions Bandari who left it late to beat Nakumatt FC 2-1 have been handed a tricky fixture against second tier side Bidco United, 5-4 winners on post match penalties over Wazito FC in the previous round.

Stand-in coach Ken Odhiambo is optimistic the team can still go on and defend the title, but has called on his charges to up the ante especially after surviving a surge from the second tier leaders Nakumatt.

“That has been our objective and we promised to work hard in each match to see to it that we defend the title. It is not easy because every team is tough and we ought to work harder. It was great seeing the fighting spirit in the team and hopefully we can push on,” Odhiambo told Capital Sport.

Ten-time champions Gor Mahia will play Nzoia United and head coach Jose Marcello Ferreira will have another tough encounter as he looks on to push Gor to a trophy that has evaded them since 2012.

Ulinzi Stars, who beat Muhoroni Youth 2-0 to sail to the last 16, have been handed another tough test against fellow Premier League side Chemelil Sugar.

The military side last year saw their journey end in the quarters at the hands of eventual champions Bandari and head coach Robert Matano wants his men to carry even further and win the cup which has never found its way into their trophy cabinet.

“It was a decent match. We played well, used our chances and remained disciplined in defense. We move step by step and hope to get to the final,” Matano said after the match in Kisumu.

Tusker FC who have won the title three times, their last being in 1993, have been set up against third-tier side Zetech University, facing former coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo who now handles the university side.

The tactician is already relishing the prospect of facing the side he played for and coached he believes his young guns have enough bullets to take down Tusker.

“It is a tough match no doubt but I am always pleased to play against Tusker. There is some good connection between us. I have confidence in my young boys because we have been performing very well in the league and hopefully we keep the same form,” Omollo said.

Zetech is the lowest ranked team among the final 16 teams to qualify.

GOtv Shield third round full fixtures

Zetech University v Tusker FC, Timsales/Posta Rangers v Agro Chemical, Western Stima v AFC Leopards, Thika United v KCB, Nzoia United v Gor Mahia, Ulinzi Stars v Chemelil Sugar, Modern Coast Rangers v Kariobangi Sharks, Bandari v Bidco United.

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