NAIROBI, Kenya, June 18- Having returned to the team after two years in military service, Ulinzi Stars striker Stephen Waruru is hungry to lead the soldiers to at least one title this season having gone for an agonizing four-year period without lifting any silverware locally.
Ulinzi’s last senior side conquest was in 2011 when they beat Western Stima 2-1 to win the KPL Top 8 title in its inaugural edition.
They reached the final of the tournament in 2012 but failed to defend, losing 2-0 to Gor Mahia.
But the soldiers will hope their junior team’s win in the KPL Under-20 Championship coupled with Waruru’s return will spur them to success this year.
“I am happy to get back to the team and do what I love most, playing football. I am glad to re-unite with my team mates and what makes me happier is they have been working hard and currently second on the standings,” Waruru told Capital Sports.
“My target this year is to help the team win at least one trophy. Whether it’s the Top 8, GOtv Shield or Premier League. I am certain we can do it because the team is working so hard.”
Head coach Robert Matano is also pleased with the return of the top striker as well as Ezekiel Otuoma, Elvis Nandwa and Mohammed ‘Rio’ Hassan.
“They will give us a lot of options upfront especially with Waruru and Otuoma’s speed. We all saw what they can do last week against Muhoroni and we had only trained together for a week. Now we have trained for another one week and definitely we expect better,” Matano offered.
Ulinzi will have a chance of an early realization to this dream as they host Muhoroni Youth in the return leg of the Top 8 Semi.
Having played to a barren draw in the first leg, Ulinzi will need to win the match to progress while a scoring draw will see Muhoroni who will be the away team progress to their first ever Top 8 final.
Matano is upbeat his soldiers have the ability to maneuver through the tricky fixture and make their third ever appearance in the final.
“It’s not an easy match because Muhoroni is also a very good team. But we need to work hard, use our chances and I believe we will progress,” the tough speaking tactician said.
Muhoroni will be without keeper Farouk Shikhalo who is suspended having picked his second yellow card of the tournament in the first leg.
The former Tusker shot stopper was immense in the first leg, making crucial saves including Kevin Amwayi’s penalty.
The sugar belt side will be looking up to their top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo to bang in the goals and another tough duel is expected between Ochomo, himself a former Ulinzi player and the military side’s tough man at the back Geoffrey Kokoyo.