NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16- His immediate former boss Sam Ssimbwa might have ruled out Sofapaka’s chances of fighting for the Kenyan Premier League title just four games into the new season, but the man who takes up his boots, John Baraza, bears different sentiments.
After their 3-1 loss to leaders Mathare United on February 25, Ssimbwa who resigned last week on the back of sabotage claims said that the team had not yet shown tenets of being champions and would only be playing to finish the season in a respectable position.
However, Baraza who was elevated to the post of coach after the Ugandan’s exit believes they will be a force to reckon in the race to this year’s title despite currently sitting six points off the leaders.
“He might have had his reasons to say that. But I have been with these players from the beginning of the season and I know their potential. They have the experience and if we do things in the right way, we are strong contenders for the title,” Baraza told Capital Sport.
Baraza, suited for the occasion took charge of his first match in charge of the club on Sunday but his charges were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Sony Sugar who played almost half the match with 10-men.
Baraza was pleased with the point, but was left ruing the missed opportunities.
“We fought well, but my problem is the scoring. We did just like I had asked them to do; possess and pass the ball around. But we couldn’t convert the chances we had. This is work in progress and we will work on it. We will get it soon,” a confident Baraza added.
The draw left Batoto ba Mungu six points off leaders Mathare United who suffered their second defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to Posta Rangers at the Camp Toyoyo.
Two goals from Kennedy Otieno and Jockins Atudo off set plays in the opening 13 minutes saw Mathare tackle a mountain and though Clifford Alwanga halved the deficit before thehalf way mark in the opening half, it proved to be tough for them.
“If we can keep the momentum that we saw in the second half and correct some few mistakes. We gave way too many balls. If we can work on that then we can create more and force a good start,” the coach said after the game.
“You have to be disappointed for not getting the three points but not extending the lead at the top. I think what is important is that the disappointment can be a huge learning lesson from the youngsters,” the coach further noted.
The loss saw them retain a one point lead over Gor Mahia who have a three-match deficit owing to their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup.
For Posta though, it was a priceless win that took them fourth on the log, a welcome result especially after their loss away to Zoo Kericho.
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards remained third after Zoo scored late to deny them a win, the visitors fighting for a 2-2 draw at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Interim coach Dennis Kitambi who is on his final month at the den was disappointed with the result especially in the manner they conceded the equalizer late on in the game.
“We have to fix our defense and a bit of goalkeeping because we conceded such a soft goal. But there has been improvement in the team hopefully we can fix the small areas of weakness and we will be good,” Kitambi said.
Elsewhere, Chemelil Sugar started life without head coach Patrick Odhiambo on a good footing beating new boys Wazito FC 3-1 at their Chemelil Complex backyard. Odhiambo decamped to neighbors Sony at the beginning of the week.
The win saw Chemelil move to sixth on the log with a match at hand.
KPL weekend results:
Kariobangi Sharks 0-0 Nakumatt, AFC Leopards 2-2 Zoo FC, Posta Rangers 2-1 Mathare United, Tusker FC 0-0 Vihiga United , Sofapaka 1-1 Sony Sugar FC, Nzoia Sugar 1-0 Bandari FC, Chemelil 3-1 Wazito FC, Ulinzi Stars 0-0 Thika United.