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Mwalala targets hold on second, unbeaten run

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Bandari FC head coach Bernard Mwalala gives instructions to his players at half time during their Kenyan Premier League match against Tusker FC at the Ruaraka Complex on August 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Bandari FC head coach Bernard Mwalala will have two things on his agenda when the dockers host Sofapaka at the Mbaraki Complex in Mombasa on Wednesday; firming a hold on second spot in the SportPesa Premier League standings and maintaining his unbeaten record since joining the club.

Mwalala who joined Bandari in mid-season from Nzoia Sugar has had a 10-match unbeaten streak with the side, guiding them to eight wins and dropping points only twice.

“It has been like a dream run for me because most of the times when a new coach comes into a team, he struggles to lay his philosophy but for me it has been different. The players were very receptive of my methods and they adapted quickly that is why we have had no struggles,” Mwalala noted.

Bandari have not fluked in their wins and apart from famously breaking Gor Mahia’s unbeaten run with a 2-1 win at Mbaraki, they have picked victories against the likes of Kariobangi Sharks, Posta Rangers and Tusker FC.

On Wednesday, they take on a Sofapaka side struggling to blow in results in the Premier League, but beaming with confidence after picking a ticket to the Football Kenya Federation Shield final following their 1-0 victory in the semis against defending champions AFC Leopards.

Mwalala says his team is ready for the huge task and remains confident that his side will emerge victorious especially noting they will be playing on home turf.

Sofapaka players celebrate Ezekiel Okare’s winner during their Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield tie against Tusker FC at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on September 2, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“Sofapaka is a very good team. I have watched many of their matches this season and I know it will not be an easy task for us. The target remains to continue with the good run we have had and cement our hold on second position which is where we want to finish the season in,” the tactician further explained.

He is however worried that his side has not been taking their chances as early as he would have loved and has challenged his striking force to bang in the goals early.

“Tomorrow’s game will be a game of chances. Whoever takes his chances early will win. We have had this problem for a while now that we create so many chances but we don’t convert many. In games such as Sofapaka’s we have to be lethal,” the former Harambee Stars forward further stated.

Bandari convincingly won the first leg 3-0 in Machakos and the return hope to complete the home and away drubbing for a sixth victory in 16 meetings over Batoto ba Mungu.

Sofapaka come into the tie tails up after last weekend’s FKF Shield final qualification and head coach John Baraza hopes the squad can maintain the same form back in the league.

“We had hoped to win the league title, but now it’s impossible. The target is to finish the season strongly and at least, we should be getting into the top three,” said Baraza of Sofapaka’s targets, currently fifth in the standings.

Sofapaka striker Ellie Asieche celebrates with team-mates after scoring the winner against defending champions AFC Leopards in the FKF Shield semi

Batoto ba Mungu are on a run of three wins on the trot having beaten Posta Rangers, Tusker FC and Kakamega Homeboyz.

The results have seen them move to 50 points, one shy of third placed AFC Leopards and eight behind second placed Bandari FC.

Leopards will be hoping to wipe the blushes of their Shield exit when they take on Tusker FC in Machakos in Wednesday’s early kick off.

In other matches, Ulinzi Stars take on Zoo Kericho at their Green Stadium backyard while Mathare United, placed eighth in the standings play Posta Rangers in Kasarani.

KPL midweek fixtures:

Vihiga United v Gor Mahia, Kakamega Hombeoyz v Sony Sugar (Mumias), AFC Leopards v Tusker FC, Kariobangi Sharks v Wazito (Machakos), Bandari v Sofapaka (Mombasa), Mathare United v Posta Rangers (Kasarani), Nakumatt v Nzoia Sugar (Camp Toyoyo), Zoo Kericho v Ulinzi Stars (Kericho).

Thursday: Thika United v Chemelil Sugar (Thika).

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