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Nyangweso banks on Makwatta in Hilal return

Ulinzi Stars STAND-IN COACH Benjamin Nyangweso gives instructions on the touchline during his side’s 4-1 win against Kariobangi Sharks in a GOtv Shield Semi final on October 1 at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium. PHOTO/TIMOTHY OLOBULU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – Ulinzi Stars head coach Benjamin Nyangweso is hoping the availability of forward John Mark Makwatta for the CAF Confederations Cup return leg tie against Libya’s Al Hilal Benghazi on Saturday will hand the soldiers a major boost to progress to the first round.

Makwatta missed the first leg in Cairo, Egypt last Friday due to the unavailability of his passport which was in the United Kingdom embassy for visa processing as he is due to travel for the friendly match against Hull City February 27.

The forward who was Ulinzi’s top scorer last season with 26 goals in all competitions will be available for Saturday’s second leg where they will be looking to overturn a 1-0 defeat they suffered in the opening leg.

“It is something great that he is back, but having not trained with us for some time it will not be guaranteed that he will start. But his presence will be key for us and will add more options and I am pleased he is available,” Nyangweso told Capital Sport.

The military side has been training at the Kabete Barracks after returning from Cairo and will need to win by a margin of more than two goals to progress to the first round for the first time in their history.

John Mark Makwatta celebrates sealing his hat-trick.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Nyangweso has rued missed chances in the first leg, but insists they will do their best to win the match at home.

“It will not be easy because they are a tactical team. We should also be wary because they are good at time wasting and an early goal would be ideal for us. It is a beatable team and we are working hard to ensure we improve our finishing,” Nyangweso said.

“In the first leg we conceded because of a slight lapse in concentration. My defenders slowed down when a ball was played forward thinking the referee would call for an offside but he didn’t. We had chances to score, even two penalties denied. Overall, I think we played well,” Nyangweso added.

A victory for the soldiers will land them a date back to Egypt where they are scheduled to play Smouha in Alexandria, a side that reached the group stages of the Champions League in 2015.

Nyangweso peg their hopes on getting to the group stages and have vowed to play their hearts out against Al Hilal to progress.

Ulinzi will play three stages before getting to the group stages. If they go past Smouha in the first round, they will progress to round two where they will play a knockout phase against teams eliminated from the Champions League. Winners in this stage qualify for the group stages.