NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – Ulinzi Stars defender Mohammed ‘Rio’ Hassan will be available for the side’s clash against AFC Leopards on Wednesday afternoon in Machakos after managing to recover from a thigh injury that saw him substituted in the weekend win over Kariobangi Sharks.
However, head coach Benjamin Nyangweso is yet to make a decision on midfielder Boniface Onyango who missed the Sharks match with an ankle injury.
“Hassan trained well on Monday and the doctor said he will be okay to play. For Onyango, he was not 100 percent because there still seems to be some pain on the ankle. I will make a decision on him late, but it is a relief to have Hassan back,” Nyangweso said, looking ahead to the Wednesday fixture.
The soldiers will be looking to their second win of the season but Nyangweso admits it will not be a walk in the park, having watched Ingwe’s 2-1 win over Nzoia Sugar just after their tie with Sharks last weekend.
“They (AFC Leopards) have a very good midfield and their strikers are also very sharp. It will not be an easy match and we need to be concentrated throughout the game. Having started with a win, we want to keep that momentum and ensure we pick the second win of the season,” the tactician who led Ulinzi to the title in 2010 noted.
History will be on Ulinzi’s side as they have not lost to Leopards over the last six meetings, winning four and drawing twice.
However, looking at how Ingwe have started the season, on their best day, it will not be business as usual. Prior to Ulinzi’s run of six unbeaten matches against Leopards, Leopards had beaten the soldiers six times in a row.
Head coach Stewart Hall knows only too well it will be tough against the military side, but he reckons his side boasting of a good fighting spirit and squad depth will have enough to beat the soldiers in Machakos.
Striker Gilbert Fiamenyo who limped off injured in the weekend win over Nzoia has been declared fit while defender Robinson Kamura will undergo a late fitness test before he is included in the match day squad.
“Instead of looking at players who are uncertain, I will be positive and look at our strength because we have a very strong squad in terms of depth. We expect a tough match because we have played them in a friendly before and I watched them over the weekend,” Hall said.
“They are a strong and physical side and coming in from a game over the weekend that took a huge toll on us, I know we need to dig deep to ensure we win.” The British coach added.
Leopards will be motivated by the fact they will move top of the table with a positive result on Wednesday. A draw will take them over Bandari in terms of alphabetical order but an outright win will move them to nine points, two above the Mombasa based side.
Striker Mungai Kiongera has been an important figure in Hall’s squad in the opening two matches and being a man who has never failed to score a goal against Ulinzi during his stints at Leopards, KCB and Gor Mahia, he will definitely be an important player on Wednesday.