NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19- Ulinzi Stars head coach Benjamin Nyangweso has urged Football Kenya Federation and Kenyan Premier League officials to work faster to resolve the impasse around the delay of the start of the 2017 season as it might hurt their continental ambitions.
The military side progressed to the first round of the CAF Confederations Cup after beating Libya’s Al Hilal Benghazi on Saturday and will play Egypt’s Smouha in Alexandria on March 10.
Nyangweso fears that the lack of competitive football for his team will be costly especially ahead of a potentially tricky tie against the North Africans who reached the group stages of the Champions League in 2015.
“You know it is very tricky and tough to keep the players on toes when they are not looking forward to a match in the weekend. At the end, it might come to haunt us because it is important to have that competitive match fitness,” Nyangweso said.
“If the league starts even next weekend, at least we will be able to gauge ourselves and know where to improve. Right now, it will be very tough for us to prepare adequately.” The tactician added.
He now hopes the club’s management in the meantime can secure friendly matches against teams from either Uganda or Tanzania or if possible against a North African opponent.
Ulinzi have never made it past the preliminary round of continental football with their last attempt being in 2011 where they lost 5-0 on aggregate to Egypt’s Zamalek in the preliminary round.
The soldiers believe they can do well this time round.
“Egyptian teams are not easy to play against. Our hope is that we will be ready for that game and I am confident in the players because they have shown the desire. We can do it and progress to the group stages,” Nyangweso affirmed.
Skipper James Saruni who was the penalties hero on Saturday added on that the side is determined to make a mark in continental football.
“We are more experienced now because we know what is required at that stage. We have learnt our lessons from the two games against Al Hilal and looking forward, we won’t do the same mistakes again. We know how important it is to score goals in each of the legs and it will be one of our targets now,” Saruni opined.
Nyangweso will be hoping to work on the finishing when they return to training, something that he says has been their Achilles heel over the two matches against Hilal and overall throughout their pre-season.
“Scoring has been an issue for us. Even on Saturday, we would have wrapped up the game in 90 minutes but we lost so many easy opportunities. It is an area of concern which we hope to address. In continental football goals are very important,” the tactician noted.