NAIROBI, Kenya, March 17 – Having returned to Sofapaka after six years, Sofapaka head coach Sam Ssimbwa has set his sights on winning titles with the 2009 Kenyan Premier League champions, warning those underrating the team to do so at their own peril.
Batoto ba Mungu survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last year, winning 5-1 against Thika United on the final day of the season while Ushuru lost 3-1 to Posta Rangers, earning them a lifeline.
But the charismatic and sometimes controversial Ugandan who led the club to the GOtv Shield (then president’s cup) title in 2010 believes despite the fact the quality of players in the team isn’t as top notch as it was in 2010, they still can fight for titles.
“Our players are not as good as were before but they are good enough to compete for honors. I want my team to compete for honors, not to be participants,” Ssimbwa told Capital Sport.
He admits it will be a challenge to build up the team especially noting the high number of new players coming in.
“It really is a big challenge to me and the club because when I was here I had groomed so many players and I had like seven starting players in Harambee Stars but now we have none. It is a big job to groom others but I am up to the task,” he noted.
The club opens its 2017 campaign on Sunday at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru against Sony Sugar and Ssimbwa says the team is ready for kick off despite the uncertainty that had been there over their participation in the league.
“Our club president has helped us a lot by assuring us that we shall play because under normal circumstances there was no such law demoting us. He was encouraging us to work more in training. But it was a bit hard for the players but we have been keeping them on toes,” Ssimba noted.
“We have had at least one friendly match every weekend just to keep us up to speed and looking at the team, we are ready for the first match. I know the Kenyan Premier League is tough and we have prepared accordingly,” added the tactician.
Ssimbwa, assisted by John Baraza who oversaw their miraculous survival last season has assembled together an experienced squad blending it with youngsters and he believes that combination will be vital in returning the club to the top.
Among the experienced players who have joined the side include Kennedy Oduor, veteran midfielder Charles Okwemba and Maurice Odipo all from Ushuru, Humphrey Okoti from Bandari and Collins Kisuya from Chemelil Sugar.
Sony began the season on a low, losing 2-0 to local rivals Chemelil last weekend and they will be up to making up for the lost ground against Sofapaka.