Football Football

Thika Utd ace Aswani eyes Golden Boot


NAIROBI, Kenya, July 19- Thika United ace Kepha Aswani is burning with ambition to win the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Golden Boot besides firing his side  to the top two at the end of the season.

“Since I made a return after my season long loan with Mathare United in 2008, this has been home for me.

“I intend to return the favour with more goals for the top scorer award which is within my sights and help my team compete on the continental stage next year,” the midfielder who lifted the title with the Slum Boys told Capital Sport after a training session on Thursday.

Sofapaka striker John Baraza who has bagged the KPL golden boot twice has 14 goals to his name, four better than second placed Aswani who recently was in the Harambee Stars squad for the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers.

Aswani, 23, the last born in a family of five, began his love for the sport during his days at Makongeni Primary School but it was until he joined Jogoo Road High School in Nairobi that his talent blossomed.

“It was during a provincial final against Kamukunji High school in 2003 that I was noticed by their principal after we received a 7-1 humiliation.

“Together with two of my colleagues, we were privileged to get a scholarship with the football powerhouse joining them in Form Two and that’s how the journey began,” the father of one recalled.

He hails from a family unit of sporting pedigree who are indebted to their parents for unequivocal support.

His elder brother and role model Johnson plays for FKF Division One side Moyas while sister Phanice turns out for KCB Lions in the local basketball league.

At Kamukunji, he played alongside Harambee Stars skipper Dennis Oliech who was a Form Four student at the time and after leaving the gates of the renowned institution, he was recruited by Thika before falling out with coach Juma Abdallah who flogged him to Mathare for a season long loan where he went on top play an integral role in their 2008 title winning side.

His teammate at Jogoo Road and Kamukunji, custodian Kelvin Otieno, joined City Stars before crossing over to KCB and finally settling for Division One side Mahakama now under former Sofapaka tactician Ezekiel Akwana.

Thika head coach John Kamau is full of praise for his captain whom he believes is key in their plans to remain competitive in the KPL.

“Aswani is very influential in my squad, there are fine qualities that I saw in him the moment I joined this side and resolved to exploit the potential

“The reason he is so impressive is not only due to his own ability but also owing to the formation we adopt by way of a strong midfield back up that supplies the ball to him,” said Kamau who is set for further training in the Netherlands in August.

The tactician believes they made the right decision to keep the player during the beginning of the season and though he is flattered by the interest clubs have in him, he will not easily let go his top marksman.

“We will sit down with the management in December as we streamline our squad into a feasible number from the current 30 to a handy 23.

“This will enable us increase earnings for our playing unit and hopefully convince Aswani to stay since I consider that this pattern is the best for him to keep finding the back of the net,” divulged the coach who intends to see off his three-year contract at the club.

“I’m currently committed to this side but should I lift the golden boot, I will have the reason to bargain a good contract with any side that shows interest in me

“But most likely I will go for one that is not within KPL preferably in the neighbouring Tanzania since I seek new challenge,” he told.

During the June transfer window, Aswani generated interest from the likes of Simba SC from the Tanzanian League and KPL rivals Gor Mahia but he still has a year running in his contract with the Brookside sponsored team.

His colleague striker Moses Arita is delighted to partner with Aswani and although he wishes the midfielder would stick with them due to his leadership skills, he wants the best for him.

“I would like him to stay and assist this young squad grow to greater heights, he is very inspirational and we are proud to have him

“However should he find greener pastures that will see him improve his ability, we will wish him well given that he has left a mark at the club,” he adds.

After their weekend fixture against Muhoroni Youth, Aswani is relishing the tie involving Sofapaka on July 28 which he believes will provide a platform to prove whose better between the two golden boot frontrunners.

“I suppose if I score away against Muhoroni, when we face them, it will be a good clash for me to take on Baraza and see who emerges top.

“I have lots of respect for Baraza but got this feeling that is the game I will finally take the lead from him and there will be no turning back,” he charged adding that title holders Tusker and leaders AFC Leopards are their main opponents in the league.