NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20- Sofapaka head coach John Baraza will be chasing history when he leads out his side for their Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield Round of 16 tie against Western Stima on Sunday as he looks to be among the few coaches to win the title both as a player and coach.
Baraza has been at the heart of all three Sofapaka conquests in the domestic cup in 2007, 2010 and the last title in 2014 as a player and now, he wants to translate that piece of form as a coach.
“Everyone wants to make history and for me, this is a motivation to make sure the team does well. I would be very proud if we achieve that and win this title. If we win it as a team, it will not merely be my effort but that of the team,” Baraza said.
Sofapaka take on National Super League (NSL) side Stima in Narok in Sunday’s late kick off, with the hope of going all the way to the final and breaking a four-year trophy drought.
With the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title seemingly away from their reach, the FKF Shield looks a more achievable silverware target for Batoto ba Mungu and this will be a crucial match for them.
“We haven’t given up on the title yet, because Gor might lose their matches at hand. You never know. But, this is our chance to win a trophy and we will give our all. It has been four years without a trophy and we have a chance to win one this year,” the coach noted.
They will be up against former KPL side Western Stima, a side that is currently doing well in the NSL and are placed second in the standings behind leaders Ushuru.
Baraza expects a tough duel against the powermen and has hinted he will field his strongest squad.
“If you look at how they are performing in the NSL then you know they are not an easy team. Even when they were in the KPL, they were always a tough team for us so we are not taking this game lightly,” the tactician added.
Sofapaka will miss the services of keeper Wycliffe Kasaya who picked up a groin injury in their last league match against Sony Sugar, Umaru Kassumba will miss after picking up a knock in training while midfielder Bernard Mang’oli has a stomach bug and will be unavailable.
In the early kick off at the Narok Stadium, four-time champions Tusker FC will take on Bungoma SuperStars with Robert Matano also in the eye of history.
Matano has reached the last two finals, winning last year with AFC Leopards while in the preceding year, he lost to his current employers by a solitary goal in the final. He looks to become the first coach to reach three consecutive finals and the first to win back to back with two different teams.
The brewers are having an indifferent season in the league and they are placed ninth in the standings with 30 points, a massive 19 behind leaders Gor Mahia. A charge for the league title looks like a mirage for the 11-time champions.
Matano will now look to make an imprint in the cup competition, though he has admitted it will not be an easy outing against the little known Bungoma.
On Saturday, last year’s losing finalists Kariobangi Sharks will face Modern Coast Rangers at the Mbaraki Complex in Mombasa as they look to head into their second consecutive final.
Head coach William Muluya will be heading into this game beaming with tides of confidence picked from their run in the KPL< including last weekend’s emphatic 5-1 win over Tusker FC.
In the other matches, non-league side Friendzone which is composed of a host of former players will take on Eldoret’s Riverplate while in the late kick off at the Narok Stadium, Kenya Police will take on another non-league side Leysa.
FKF Shield Round of 16 fixtures:
Saturday: Kariobangi Sharks v Modern Coast- Mbaraki, Friendzone v Riverplate, Kenya Police v Leysa (Narok Stadium)
Sunday: Vihiga United v Ulinzi Stars (Mumias), Tusker FC v Bungoma Superstars, Sofapaka v Western Stima (Narok Stadium)