NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9- Only one point separates Bandari and AFC Leopards on the Kenyan Premier League table but in terms of pressure, Ingwe are miles ahead of their coastal hosts, as they gear up for a crucial tie at the Mbaraki Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Winless in their last five matches in all competitions, and headed for another trophy-less season, the drum beats are on for the great Ingwe.
Self proclaimed ‘special one’ Ezekiel Akwana will shoulder the burden of hope when AFC lines up in Mbaraki and he says his boys are ready for war; it’s all in or nothing.
Taking over the pressure seat from Belgian Ivan Minnaert who was relieved of his duties last week, Akwana says he has worked to bring unity within the squad and he is positive the tide will turn at the floor of the Indian Ocean in Mombasa.
“We have trained well for the past two weeks and I’m confident the boys have what it takes to get back to winning ways,” Akwana told Capital Sport.
More often than not, Akwana has flourished when called upon as a patch-up. His biggest turning point was in 2011 when as a stand in coach led Sofapaka into the third round of the CAF Confederations Cup, the furthest a Kenyan team has progressed.
Coaching AFC Leopards has always been his dream; and in the next eight matches, he has an opportunity to take over the post permanently.
On 29 points and 10th on the log, Ingwe are four points off the top eight, which is a minimum target for a club of their stature. A win at the Coast will draw them closer, especially if the teams above them stumble.
But they don’t come up against the easiest of opponents.
Bandari have not won in their last three matches, drawing twice and losing once, results that don’t put Ken Odhiambo in a comfortable situation either.
The side which won the GOtv Shield last year and finished in their best ever position in top flight, fourth, have been far from convincing this season. Against a staggering Ingwe, they have an opportunity to inject some energy into their top five drive.
Bernard Mang’oli and Edwin Wafula, who made a comeback to the den in June after moving to Bandari at the beginning of the year, will be eager to show they made the right decision ditching the Dockers for their former club and they will form a particular point of interest in the match.
Both have settled back to regular starting places with AFC and Mang’oli who has been pulling strings in midfield has gone on to be bestowed the honor of captaining the 13-time champions.
-Ulinzi stars vs Sofapaka-
Elsewhere, Ulinzi Stars who have fired blanks in both their last two league matches play at home against relegation threatened Sofapaka.
Ten points off the leaders Tusker FC, another drop in points will all but put a final puncture into their drive to hunt for the league title.
In the absence of the ailing Robert Matano, Benjamin Nyangweso who was part of the fold when they last won the league in 2010 will take charge.
He is hoping to better his striking force a department he says has been their grey area.
“It is a bit sad because in both games, we have played well and created chances. I think we have to do it now or never. Sofapaka is not a simple team despite their position on the table. They have been on the rise of late and we need to be very cautious,” Nyangweso said.
Batoto ba Mungu are seven points off safety and a win will be the only thing on their minds when they descend on the floor of the Rift Valley to face Ulinzi.
Ushuru who are placed above them on the log will be at home to leaders Tusker and with the match going either way, Sofapaka will not want to take chances.
Ulinzi won the first leg 2-1 in Nairobi and Sofapaka are eager to exert revenge.