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Sofapaka storm awaits Ismailia

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 30- Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, domestic cup holders Sofapaka, are set for an all out attack in Saturday’s CAF Confederations Cup second round return match against Egypt’s Ismailia at Nyayo National Stadium.

Meanwhile, their Magreb opponents arrived in the country Wednesday morning aiming to complete the job they started two Saturday’s ago when striker Mohamed Abou Greisha and midfielder Hosny Abd Rabou shook Sofapaka’s net.

“We are two goals down and there is no way out but to attack. Now I’m working on playing high with the ball and playing high without the ball meaning when we have the ball, we will camp in their half and when we lose it, we shut them in their own third.

“This way, when we make mistakes, they will not cause us any damage since they are capable of hitting us on the break,” Sofapaka acting coach, Ezekiel Akwana told reporters at Nyayo Stadium after his side’s training session on Wednesday.

Akwana disclosed Sofapaka will miss their first choice central defence pairing of Edgar ‘Fighter’ Ochieng and George ‘Wise’ Owino with captain James Situma and Congolese national, Dodo Kayombo slotting in their places.

The club is also sweating over the fitness of dependable winger and Harambee Stars international, Bob Mugalia, who picked a knock in Tuesday’s international friendly against Nigeria Super Eagles where Kenya went down 3-0.

“Ochieng is suspended after picking two yellow cards while Owino is injured and will not be fit for the match but Situma and Kayombo can play well at central defence. I was depending on John Baraza and Mugalia for the goals but I saw him get injured in yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) match and we will wait to see his condition when he returns,” Akwana added.

On why he wants to adopt the high pressing game that leaves no room for mistakes on Saturday, the tactician stated, “Kenya players have problems playing in their final third of the pitch. We saw it in the goal Angola scored here, Nigeria’s goals on Tuesday and it was the same mistake that led to us losing two goals in the first leg.”

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Last season’s KPL top scorer, Baraza who is yet to get off the mark this campaign is aware he needs to find his shooting boots on Saturday if Sofapaka are to pull off what no Kenyan club has ever achieved-overturn a first leg deficit against an Egyptian outfit.

“We need to score, there is no other way and I will try to go for the early goal. Once one goes in, the rest will follow. We have been preparing for finishing in training and things are not bad,” he expressed.

He added: “We must also keep our shape, tactical discipline and at the same time, defend well; we can not run upfront without a plan since they are good on the counter attack.”

Baraza will be paired with the 2008 KPL top scorer, Francis Ouma, who has also not ignited this season after his return to domestic football after a two-year unsuccessful stint in Tanzania and Belgium.

“I have faith that soon, it will all come together for me. I have been working hard to be in my old shape but for the moment, our focus is on Ismailia. It’s a difficult job but it can be done,” the former Mathare United forward stressed.

Last season, Sofapaka also clashed with Ismailia but this time in the lucrative CAF Champions League first leg where the Egyptians prevailed 2-0 on aggregate after holding their hosts to a barren draw before sealing passage at their backyard.

The KPL side needs to net at least two unanswered goals to force extra-time and any goal they concede means they have to out score Ismailia by four clear goals to advance.

Sofapaka secured their progress to Confederations Cup second round after edging Angola’s AS Aviacao 7-5 on post-match spot-kicks after both legs ended goalless.    

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