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Ulinzi bank on early goals to down Benghazi

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.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17- Trailing 1-0 from the first leg played in Cairo, Egypt last Friday, Ulinzi Stars have to win by a margin of more than two goals in the return leg against Libyan side Al-Ahly Benghazi on Saturday to advance to the first round of the CAF Confederations Cup.

Head coach Benjamin Nyangweso and captain James Saruni both believe the side can overturn the results, but admit scoring a goal early would be key in aiding their ambition.

“We know they will come to sit back and try to hit us on the counter because that is the same thing they did when they scored in the first leg. The only way we can ensure we avoid that, is by scoring early. We have nothing to lose by going all out because we need the goals,” Nyangweso told Capital Sport as the team had its final paces at the Kasarani Stadium on Friday morning.

The soldiers will be boosted with the return of striker John Mark Makwatta who missed the first leg due to the unavailability of his passport.

Coming at a time when his boys need nothing but goals, the return of the man who scored 26 goals in all competitions last season will be a welcome boost for the military side.

“It is great to have him (Makwatta) back with his quality and his hunger for goals. I am very sure he will make a good addition to the team. We need to get in the goals and I am very optimistic we have done enough in training to sharpen our attack,” Saruni added.

Ulinzi Stars technical bench.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Ulinzi have not gone back to their base in Nakuru since returning from Cairo and have been camping at the Kabete Barracks with Nyangweso working on the finishing which he says was their main undoing in the first leg.

“I look at the players and I am very certain that we are in the right frame of mind to do well tomorrow (Saturday). They are psyched up and focused for the match. We have 90 minutes to do this and we will give our all,” Nyangweso noted.

The team’s aim remains making it to the group stages for the first time ever, though it will not be all smooth sailing for them.

Defender and assistant captain Geoffrey Kokoyo has issued a rallying call to his team mates to ensure they get a result against the Libyan side and pull their weight for the first round match where they will face Egyptian side Smouha.

“It is a possibility and that remains our target. We first have to ensure we win tomorrow’s match and we know we can. They are a beatable team. We were only unlucky in the first leg especially with referee decisions. But tomorrow, everyone is focused to get a win,” Kokoyo said.

The Libyan side will be training at the Kasarani Stadium in the evening and the least they will require from the return leg is a draw.

Ulinzi has called upon fans to turn up in large numbers and offer them support as they have lowered gate charges to a flat rate of Sh100.