NAIROBI, KENYA, Feb 1 – Kariobangi Sharks boss William Muluya has hinted he will have to heavily rotate his squad for Sunday’s Kenyan Premier League clash against Sofapaka in Machakos to mitigate the effects of fatigue amidst a congested calendar.
The tactician says he has to look out for the welfare of his charges as they will be playing their fifth match in two weeks.
Sharks played against Mathare United on Wednesday, barely 48 hours after jetting back from their SPortpesa Cup triumph in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and had to make all three changes due to injuries.
“We did all three changes and again we had more players who were struggling inside the pitch so I think it is time I give a chance to those who didn’t play much in Tanzania,” the tactician stated.
Winger Harrison Mwendwa was stretchered out with a hamstring strain while Vincent Wasambo also limped off with a troubled calf. Striker Duke ABuya has been playing beyond the pain barrier having injured his ankle in Dar es Salaam.
Among the players who might be dipped into the starting squad for Sunday’s trip to Machakos include skipper Eric Juma who has mostly been used as a second half substitute having returned from injury.
Last year’s Kenyan Premier League player of the year Eric Kapaito might also get a first start this season having as well returned from injury.
Sharks remain unbeaten this season after nine rounds and have accumulated 15 points, nine off leaders Mathare United.
Muluya has positively affirmed that his side which won last year’s Shield title are gunning for the title and has vowed they will work to their last bits of strength to achieve that target in only their third season in top flight.
He is however cautious of Mathare United who he has said should not be left to open a bigger gap than they already have.
“It’s a very tricky league and whoever opens a gap might take it early and that’s why I am afraid of Matahre. It’s a short league and very tight,”
“A nine point gap is not really bit because there are still many games left. We are in a good position and anyone can win the league. For us, we really want to win and I think it is a very realistic target. Had we not drawn those many matches we would have been at the top,” he said.
He added; “We want to play in the Champions League because I think it is more lucrative.”
They come up against a Sofapaka side that has been on the surge winning two of their last three games with coach John Baraza weaving his magic to hois the side into the top eight.
Batroto ba Mungu had struggled in the early stages of the season winning only once in seven games before Baraza took charge from Melis Medo who chose to resign.
Baraza says the secret to the side’s turn in fortunes was his decision to give the players more freedom to express themselves, plucking a page off Manchester United’s caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“I have not changed much since I came in but what we have done is to give the players more freedom to express themselves and now we see the results on the pitch. I think that is working for us because the players are not limited in their style of play,” the tactician told the club’s official website.
Sofapaka are just a point off Sharks and are confident of upstaging them on Sunday and breaking their unbeaten run.
“Sharks is a very tough team but we are also a tough outfit. We have our strategies worked out in training and we are ready for them. We will give them a good game and we are hopeful we can vie for the three points,” Baraza further stated.
The tactician though won’t have pleasant memories of the last time the two sides met, this being in last year’s Football Kenya Federation Shield where Batoto ba Mungu blew a 2-1 lead with eight minutes to go to lose 3-2.