NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Ahead of the second leg of the 2016 SportPesa Premier League season, Ulinzi Stars will welcome back top striker Stephen Waruru who had been away on military duty for the last two seasons.
Waruru, who had been Ulinzi’s top scorer in 2011 and 2012 is expected to start training on Monday with the hope of picking up fitness and making way into Robert Matano’s squad.
“He has returned to the team and will start training on Monday. He will have to fight for a place in the team and prove to the coach that he warrants a place. He will be a great addition to the team,” Ulinzi Stars CEO Major Joel Birgen told Capital Sport.
If he picks up, Waruru will form one of the strongest striking partnerships in the league alongside John Mark Makwatta, who has so far netted nine goals in 14 matches.
Last season, Makwatta scored 14 goals, breaking Waruru’s 12 goal season tally set in the 2011 season.
The team will also welcome back midfielder Elvis Nandwa alongside new signing Samwel Onyango who have graduated from the Recruit Training School (RTS) in Eldoret on Monday and will commence training with the team after a two-week rest.
Also returning is defender Mohammed Hassan who was in a military training course while winger Ezekiel Otuoma has recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the 30-man squad at the beginning of the season.
Matano will have a deep field to select from as he seeks to strengthen the team and it is unlikely he will make any signings in the June transfer window.
The team is also expected to promote two players from the junior ranks, captain Ibrahim Shambi and Vincent Otieno who impressed in the team’s KPL under-20 championship.
“We are waiting report from the technical bench to know how we will structure the team in the second leg, but I don’t think we are going to sign hugely. We have quite a good group with us,” Birgen stated.
The soldiers are looking to reclaim the SportPesa Premier League title for the first time since 2010 and they look poised to challenge as they sit third on the log on 26 points, two shy of leaders Tusker FC.
Matano will be hoping to give the side a push in the final 16 games of the season and he says he has been impressed with what he has seen in the opening leg.
“Ulinzi has not collected 23 points in the first leg for a very long time and seeing that we are now on 26, tells you something on our improvement. We want to do better in the second leg and improve on our weak areas. We are taking a match at a time,” Matano said.
Ulinzi host Kakamega Homeboyz in the final game of the first leg on Thursday and Matano hopes his boys can sign off in style by collecting 29 points, a mark that will strongly pit them as title contenders.