NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15- New Ulinzi Stars head coach Dunstan Nyaudo has admitted the gaping holes left by Stephen Waruru and Samuel Onyango will be felt as the team prepares to get its shine back in the new season.
Both players resigned from military duty, Waruru having completed nine years at the Nakuru based side while Onyango had been at Ulinzi since moving from Sony Sugar at the beginning of the 2016 season.
While Waruru moved to Sofapaka FC, Onyango has joined Kenyan Premier League defending champions Gor Mahia.
“Filling up those two gaps is not an easy task because they were first team players and performing really well. To be honest it will take a long time but ultimately, I know we can get some good replacements. We already have Masuta (Masita) who has shown promise,” Nyaudo told Capital Sport.
The two players directly contributed to 23 goals of the 37 scored by the soldiers in 2017. Waruru was the club’s top scorer with 13 goals and one assist while Onyango scored six goals and provided three assists.
It is not the first time that Ulinzi are losing a key player with their 2016 top scorer John Mark Makwatta leaving the club at the end of that season for a stint in Zambia.
The soldiers however have managed to pick a few players from within the military ranks and Nyaudo believes they will get decent players to help them improve from their seventh spot finish from last season.
Nyaudo, a former Ulinzi Stars and Harambee Stars player was picked to replace Benjamin Nyangweso who was redeployed to other military duties.
Nyangweso who led Ulinzi to their fourth league title back in 2010 picked up from Robert Matano at the beginning of last season, but a tough season saw them underperform despite finishing second in 2016. Nyaudo though says he is confident of doing better where his predecessor failed.
“It is a tough challenge but in football, that is something that’s welcome every day. We have to work hard as a team and above all have positivity. So far in training we have done well and I look forward to our first game of the season,” the tactician said.
The team has been humping up their pre-season at high altitude in Nanyuki and will be in Nairobi over the weekend for friendly matches against Tusker FC and league newcomers Wazito FC. They will also face Posta Rangers in Nakuru in midweek.
Ulinzi kick off their season at home to Zoo Kericho on February 2.