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Injury-hit Sharks confident of downing Ulinzi

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Kariobangi Sharks players celebrating after progressing to the next round of the GOtv Shield. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Kariobangi Sharks players celebrating after progressing to the next round of the GOtv Shield. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 30- Despite missing six players, Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya is not deterred as he seeks to take the National Super League side to their first ever GOtv Shield final when they face Ulinzi Stars in the semis on Saturday at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium.

Patillah Omotto, Ovellah Ochieng, Mathew Tayo, Eric Juma, Geoffrey Shiveka and Ken Wendo have all been ruled out of Saturday’s match with injury.

But Sharks who beat defending champions Bandari in the quarter finals are still unshaken and Muluya has said his side is capable of performing well and has able replacements.

“We have come from very far, and we have some short distance to our destiny. It is easier getting there. It is going to be a tough match, physical but we have prepared psychologically for that,” Muluya told Capital Sport.

Placed fourth on the National Super League standings, Sharks are confident they have what it takes to go past the soldiers who are seeking their first local title since 2011.

Muluya has said his charges will not be under any pressure heading to the match.

“It has been a good challenge getting this far and I believe what has stood out for the team is the cohesiveness and the momentum they have picked over the season. We are not under pressure and we just want to go there, express ourselves and enjoy the game,” Muluya said.

Ulinzi Stars striker John Mark Makwatta celebrates after scoring against Kakamega Homeboyz in their final match of the 2016 Kenyan Premier League first leg.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

Ulinzi Stars striker John Mark Makwatta celebrates after scoring against Kakamega Homeboyz in their final match of the 2016 Kenyan Premier League first leg.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

In contrast, it will be Ulinzi under immense pressure, with last weekend’s loss to Chemelil Sugar complicating their chances of gunning for the Kenyan Premier League title.

The result leaves them a massive 11 points off the pace with five matches to go.

“This is our opportunity to fight for a trophy this season and we have to give 100%. This week we have worked on our finishing which was a major point of concern in the Chemelil match. Despite playing against a second tier team, I know it will not be easy. They have come this far and it is proof they are a good side,” Ulinzi’s stand-in coach Benjamin Nyangweso said.

Ulinzi have never won the GOtv Shield, their best performance being in their debut year in 1995 when they reached the final, losing 2-0 to the defunct Rivatex.

Over the last six years, 2015 was their best performance having reached the quarter finals but losing to eventual champions Bandari.

One man they will be looking on to get them rolling will be striker John Mark Makwatta who has so far scored 15 goals this season, 12 in the league and three in the Shield.

“We really need to fight out for this trophy because we can’t go for another season without anything. Karioabangi Sharks is not an easy opponent but we need to go out there and give our best.

“There is no room for error because this is a knockout match and no second chance,” the former Nairobi City Stars forward noted.

The soldiers will welcome back midfielder Boniface Onyango who missed last weekend’s trip to Chemelil with a thigh strain while Churchill Muloma might also be in line for selection after returning to full training this week following a four-week lay-off.

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