NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – Despite resuming full training on Tuesday morning, AFC Leopards striker Mungai Kiongera will still not be fielded on Wednesday when Ingwe takes on Sofapaka at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos with head coach Stewart Hall saying he is not ready to risk him.
The forward has been missing with a knee injury for the last three weeks and has not featured in Ingwe colors since the 2-1 win over Nzoia Sugar in Machakos, missing four matches in the process.
“He has managed to train fully with the rest of the players for the first time on Tuesday morning, but I will not rush him back to play; I think it is still a bit too early for him. Probably we will look at him between Thursday and Friday and see whether we can have him for the Posta match on Saturday,” Hall told Capital Sport.
Second placed Leopards who are already in Machakos ahead of the Sofapaka match will hope to continue in their positive start to the season and possibly take a shot at the top of the table hoping leaders Posta Rangers drop points.
Only two points separate the two sides and Hall is well aware that Batoto ba Mungu have not lost a single match since their opening day 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sony Sugar.
“It will not be an easy match for us because Sofapaka have been playing really well. I watched them last weekend and we know what to expect. We have drawn out a plan to take on them and hopefully the boys keep up with the good run,” Hall noted.
He added; “The most important thing now is getting rest because we just came off another tough match over the weekend.”
Last season, AFC Leopards won the first leg 2-1 before losing 3-2 in the second leg in one of the matches that was hugely pivotal in Sofapaka’s survival.
Overall in the last 16 meetings between the two sides, it has been a see-saw affair with Batoto ba Mungu winning six times, Leopards seven times while three of the rest have been draws.
Hall will be hoping his boys add another win to their record against a side he briefly coached in 2012. But he maintains, there will be no sentiment.
“Well I didn’t stay long enough at the club to develop an attachment so not really much of a sentiment will be there. The team has changed so much since I was there so for me, this will be like any other match,” the Briton commented.
Apart from Kiongera, he will also miss the services of wingback Dennis Sikhayi who remains sidelined with a broken metatarsal while youngster Vincent Oburu is serving a ban till June for double signing.
He has however been boosted with Samuel Ndung’u who was cleared by the federation to play after winning a case against his former employers Muhoroni Youth.
Meanwhile, leaders Posta Rangers will be at the Awendo Stadium, head coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo’s former stomping ground. Rangers are unbeaten this season having won four times and drawn twice, conceding only one goal in the process.
Omollo will be banking on his side’s superb defensive record against the 11th placed sugar millers.
“Sony is a tough team especially in Awendo and this is another tough test for us. There is definitely some pressure being at the top but I know I have the kind of players to sustain that pressure. We will go there just to play the same way we have been playing,” Omollo noted.
Sony have lost their last two matches, at home to Gor Mahia and away to Muhoroni Youth and they will be geared up to bounce back with head coach Salim Babu rallying his charges to put their best feet forward.