NAKURU, May 4- Two players from the Ulinzi Stars under-20 team that won the Kenyan Premier League under-20 title are set to be promoted to the senior side, coach Fred Ogot has disclosed.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Ogot says Captain Ibrahim Shambi and his deputy Vincent Ochieng who cleared high school last year will be considered into the senior team while the rest who are still in High School will be absorbed into the reserve team, Ulinzi Warriors.
Shambi and Ochieng have been training with Ulinzi’s senior side for the last couple of months while defenders Dennis Owino and Peter Owuor have been playing for the Warriors after completing High School last year.
“All the players who played for us impressed so much and we will not let any of them go. A number will be joining the senior team while the others will also be absorbed by the Warriors. We will try as much as possible to have this same team in August plus maybe a few other additions to strengthen,” Ogot said.
Ulinzi lifted the title after beating Kakamega Homeboyz 3-1 on post-match penalties on Monday, having put up a resilient campaign.
Shambi played a huge role in the final especially when his side went down to ten men with ten minutes of the regular time left and he said training with Ulinzi’s seniors helped him to lift the team.
“Training with the seniors toughened me because I was playing more maturely and I had to raise my game to carry the team on my shoulders when we went a man down. I can say what lifted us to win was team work because everyone worked for the other and it is such a huge privilege as captain to help the team win,” Shambi underscored.
Ulinzi chairman Col Juma Mwinyikai heaped praise on his boys for the hard work they have put in and is set to meet with them this weekend.
“They worked hard and I have been following their progress closely. I congratulate them for their efforts and I want to assure that this team will be kept together. We made a decision to bring up a young side and having these boys who have proved themselves within us will go a long way in achieving that ambition,” Mwinyikai stated.
Senior team head coach Robert Matano, who has been acting on an advisory role for the two coaches in the junior team, conformed he had been impressed with the team, reiterating none of them will be released from within the confines of their walls.
“We will make an assessment of the team in June after the completion of the first leg and know where we need to strengthen. Definitely some of them will be considered for the senior team. That whole team will remain intact and we will try to work with them as much as possible because football is about the youth,” Matano offered.
Ogot, who also doubles up as the Warriors coach, said it was not an easy tournament especially after training for only three days but reckons they had a motivation to do well and the support received from the management helped them up.
“I had only three days to train with the team in Nakuru but luckily for us, most are playing together in school. At first we had to try understanding each player and when we did, we became stronger. It was a tough campaign but I am glad we came out top,” Ogot added.
Winger Alex Sunga who starred in the final has attracted interest from several clubs among them KCB and Nairobi City Stars who made enquiries of him.
However, Ogot said they are not willing to let go of their star who also caught Matano’s eye.
Ulinzi dedicated the win to their soldiers in Somalia and the fallen heroes who have lost their lives on the line of duty.
The military side was hugely affected with the death of their former defender Kevin Ouma who passed on while on duty during the El-Adde raid in Somalia in early February.