Football Football

Bandari debuts as SportPesa Cup heads to Dar

Bandari FC players celebrate at the Thika Stadium after eliminating Gor Mahia from the GOtv Shield on July 9, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – Kenyan Premier League side Bandari FC and Tanzania’s Mbao FC will make their debut in the third edition of the SportPesa Cup which returns to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from January 22-27.

As has been tradition, the tournament will feature eight teams, four each from Kenya and Tanzania.

Bandari replaces Kakamega Homeboyz who took part in this year’s showpiece held at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium in July while Mbao will replace Zanzibar’s Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi (JKU).

“We appreciate this opportunity which is very good for our team where 80 per cent of the players are young with an average age of 23. It will be a good exposure for them for they are the ones that put in all their effort to get us to number two in the last SPL season,” Bandari Chief Executive Edward Oduor said.

The dockers enjoyed a hugely successful 2018 season, picking up their best ever top flight finish after completing the season at second spot.

Gor Mahia players celebrate after beating Tanzania’s Simba SC 2-0 in the SportPesa Super Cup final at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on June 10, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Just like it has been over the last two editions, the winner of the tournament will not only earn the Sh3mn prize money but also get to play a friendly match against English Premier League side Everton FC.

Gor who have won the last two editions played The Toffees in Dar es Salaam last year and this month, they played them in England at their Goodison Park home-ground in Liverpool.

The winner of the tournament this year will get to host the Merseyside club for their pre-season.

“This tournament is geared at exposing the local talent to give our players a chance to be scouted as well as play with the best in the region to improve their careers and skills. We are delighted to welcome two new teams, Mbao and Bandari to the tournament,” said SportPesa Chief Marketing Officer Kelvin Twissa.

Gor Mahia players walk ut of the tunnel ready to take on Everton in a historic friendly match at the Goodison Park in Liverpool on November 6, 2018.

K’Ogalo have vowed to win the title for a third consecutive time, but know only too well competition will be stiff with other teams having salivated from afar their experience from playing Everton both in Dar and Liverpool last week.

“We are actually alive to the fact that other clubs are determined to take the crown from us this time round but we want to assure them that it will be no mean task. To them I say, let us meet again in Tanzania,” said a determined Gor Mahia chairman, Ambrose Rachier.