NAIROBI, Kenya, March 6 – Four-time Kenyan Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars have been handed a blow with their top striker John Mark Makwatta set to leave the military side as he pursues a professional football contract with FC Nitra, a second division club in Slovakia.
Consequently, Makwatta will not be part of the Ulinzi team that travels to Alexandria, Egypt on Tuesday for their CAF Confederations cup first round tie against Egyptian side Smouha on Friday.
“He (Makwatta) has already written his resignation letter and we have forwarded the same to the bosses to approve. His departure will be dependent on the decision from above,” Ulinzi Stars chairman Lt. Col Erick Oloo told Capital Sport.
Makwatta joined Ulinzi from City Stars in the second leg of the 2014 season and has been a vital cog for the side being the club top scorer for two consecutive seasons in 2015 and 2016 with the latter season seeing him crowned the league top scorer.
He had been the subject of interest from several European clubs especially after his 2016 performance and the quest to earn a fully professional football stint has now seen him seek to leave the army.
“As a team we want to respect his decision and wish him all the best. We will let him follow his path, support him and hope for the best for him. He has been a faithful servant to the team since he arrived and his impact has been seen,” Oloo noted.
He added; “We thank him for his services. He has played a very big role for us. The challenge is now for us to find a replacement.”
His head coach Benjamin Nyangweso was distraught that his top scorer will not be available any more, but he reckons the technical bench will work hard to get a replacement.
“It is a very big blow because he has been our top scorer since arriving. He has left a big gap and I know it will take some time before we get a replacement. But with the squad we have, we can always work to get a solution,” the tactician noted.
“But we are very happy for him as a team. As a coach you are always happy when you see your player progress. It is good for him and for the team as well and we wish him success in his new team,” he added.
FC Nitra plays in the West Region of the Slovakian Second Tier and their home matches are played at the 5,050 capacity Štadión pod Zoborom. They are placed third in the league having beaten Slovan Bratislava II 3-1 on Sunday.
Capital Sports understands Makwatta will sign an initial six-month probation contract which will be reviewed at the end.