NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7 – Seventh placed National Super League side Palos FC will hope to add more misery on wounded defending champions Tusker FC when the two sides lock horns in the second round of the GOtv Shield on Sunday at the Kinoru Stadium in Meru.
Tusker saw their eight-match unbeaten run checked last weekend after losing 1-0 to Bandari at the same venue and Palos now hope they can replicate the Dockers’ performance and also leave Meru with a victory.
Palos head coach Hezbon Nyabinge will be taking charge of his fifth match with the second tier club since taking over after leaving his deputy coaching role at Western Stima and he hopes he can keep his record intact.
“Tusker is a tough team because if you look at their form despite losing last weekend, they are up there in the KPL table. They are the defending champions of this tournament and they want to retain it, which makes that game even tougher,” Nyabinge revealed.
“However, we know what we can do as a team and we have trained well for this kind of game. We want to go there and be competitive, push Tusker to the edge and hopefully get a win to progress to the next round,” he added.
Nyabinge has not lost since taking over at the team in May, winning against MOSCA before back-to-back draws against Bidco United and Vihiga United. They also won 4-1 against Griffin’s in the GOtv Shield round of 32.
However, Tusker are more than determined to defend the title and their statement of intent was loud and clear when they beat Mombasa based SS Assad 9-1 in the first round match. Against Palos, head coach George ‘Best’ Nsimbe is taking no chances.
“Knockout games are tricky and we can’t underrate anyone. We expect this match to be as tough as it has been against any other Premier League opponents. But we know our ambition as a team is to defend the title and we will work to do so,” the Ugandan coach offered.
He has also hinted the possibility of rotating the squad to give players who have not had much of playing time in the league an opportunity to pick the much required match fitness.
– Other fixtures-
In other top ties this weekend, Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants Gor Mahia will be hoping for a perfect send off to their historic tie against English Premier League side Everton FC in Tanzania when they host Bandari FC at the Thika Sub-County Stadium.
K’Ogalo stand-in coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno will have his final say as the team boss with newly appointed head coach Dylan Kerr set to arrive in the country just a day before, but will most likely sit at the terraces and watch his new charges in action.
Gor, who last won the Shield in 2012, are under pressure to perform with their results in the league also bringing some unease amongst their supporters. K’Ogalo lost 2-0 to Sofapaka in Meru before drawing 2-2 with Ulinzi Stars last weekend, results that have upped pressure on their shoulders.
Bandari on their side, winners of the tournament in 2015 are hoping for their second ever title while head coach Paul Nkata will be seeking to win it for the second time in a row, with a different team.
The two sides have already met in the league with Gor winning 2-1, but Bandari have vowed to dig deep and revenge.
Elsewhere, Ulinzi Stars will face Sony Sugar for the second time in less than a month in the other second round tie clashing KPL teams. The result when they last met was 1-1, but the military side who reached the final last year will be going all out for victory.
Head coach Benjamin Nyangweso will hope the team will pick up from where they left off in the second half of their last meeting, but wary that the Sugar Millers pose a huge threat to their ambition.
“Sony is a good team and they showed that with their performance last time we met. We however, have an ambition to go all the way and win this title and we will give it our all,” Nyangweso said.
GOtv Shield round of 32 fixtures
Saturday: Zetech v Kakamega Homeboyz (2 p.m.), AFC Leopards v Nairobi Stima (Mumias Complex, 4 p.m.), Mwatate United v Butterfly FC (Wundanyi Stadium, Voi), Kenpoly v Kariobangi Sharks (2 p.m.), Nakumatt v Modern Coast (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos 4 p.m.), Ulinzi Stars v Sony Sugar (Afraha Stadium), Coast Stima v Nzoia Sugar (Mbaraki Complex), Karatina Homeboyz v GFE 105 (2 p.m.), Sofapaka v Western Stima (Thika Sub-County Stadium, 4 p.m.).
Sunday: Young Divers v Eldoret Youth (Mbaraki Complex), Wazito v KCB (2 p.m.), Ushuru v Vihiga United (Camp Toyoyo 4 p.m.), Bidco FC v Rainforest (2 p.m.), Gor Mahia v Bandari, (Thika Sub County Stadium 4 p.m.), Taqwa v Savannah (2 p.m.), Tusker v Palos (Kinoru Stadium Meru 4 p.m.).