NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17- Having guided Ulinzi Stars to their last two titles, the Kenyan Premier League and KPL Top 8 trophies in 2010 and 2011 respectively, stand-in coach Benjamin Nyangweso is eager to add another feather to his decorated cap, the GOtv Shield.
This is the single trophy that has evaded Nyangweso and it will only be the second time in Ulinzi’s history they will be playing in the final when they face Tusker FC on Mashujaa Day, coming 21 years after they lost 2-0 to Rivatex in their only other final appearance.
“For me, it would be something great. I won the league with Ulinzi in 2010, won the Top 8 the following year and now, I would love to add the Shield as well. For me and the team, this will be something so big,” the military man told Capital Sport.
Trophy-less in the last five years, winning the title doesn’t seem so much of an option for Ulinzi whose grasp in the fight for the Kenyan Premier League seems all but washed away, sitting 13 points off leaders Tusker.
“Ulinzi is a big team and we can’t afford going into another year without winning anything at home. There’s pressure to deliver and we know what we have to do. We have no two ways about it, we just need to go in and give our best,” Nyangweso stated.
– Win for Matano –
He also reckons winning the title will be a worthwhile gift for head coach Robert Matano who has been out ailing since they returned from the East Africa Military Games in August.
“Coach Matano has been with us the whole season and he is still part of this team. We have to get something for him, and the best, one he would wish for is a trophy,” Nyangweso, who has been his assistant for the last two and a half years said.
The soldiers will hope to put behind them the 2-2 disappointment draw against AFC Leopards last weekend.
“It was a bad day in office for Saruni (James) but overall I think the team did well. We created chances, scored two but I believe we should have done more. Against Tusker, it will be very tough and one of the areas we have to perfect is conversion of chances,” the tactician added.
Saruni, who also skippers the team in the absence of Stephen Ocholla, says he has put behind his back the weekend ghosts and is mentally ready to guide his side to the title, on a day some of them who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation will be honoured as heroes.
“It is a tough match, no doubt about it. It is one kind of a game where you can’t afford to make a mistake because there are no second chances. We know the weight of the match and we are putting our concentration for it,” Saruni asserted.
Ulinzi will be looking for inspiration from tournament top scorer John Mark Makwatta who scored a hat-trick from the bench in their 4-1 semi-final win over Kariobangi Sharks.