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Baraza brings back the smile in Sofa bounce

Sofapaka FC head coach John Baraza walks out of his technical area during their Kenyan Premier League match against Kariobangi Sharks in Machakos on February 3, 2019. PHOTO/Sofapaka

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – Sofapaka FC head coach John Baraza on Sunday said his players ‘are now playing with smiles on their faces’ after a 2-0 victory over Kariobangi Sharks hoisted them to fourth in the Kenyan Premier League standings.

Baraza’s lucky wand at the 2009 champions has seen them win three of their last four games and amassed 10 points, three more than they had picked after seven matches with previous boss Melis Medo.

“When I took charge I just told the boys to go in there and play with a smile on their faces and I gave them the freedom and the smile came. We are heading in the right direction and we hope to keep playing well and winning and catch up with the leading teams,” Baraza told Capital Sport.

Sofapaka had struggled with American Medo in charge, the team picking only one win in seven matches. But now, Sofapaka seem to have found their mojo back and Baraza has warned they want to vie for the KPL title.

Sharks meanwhile saw their fine run cut short in a match that head coach William Muluya was forced to make do without several of his key players who are nursing injuries after a treacherous run that has seen them play back to back games.

Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya watches from the touchline during the Kenyan Premier League match against Sofapaka in Machakos on February 3, 2019

Skipper Patillah Omotto, strikers Duke Abuya and George Abege as well as winger Harrison Mwenda all missed the tie with injury and Muluya was short of admitting those he called on to step up failed to make it count.

“It’s tough for them trying to fit in the shoes of those who made those positions their own. But despite this loss today, we push on. This is behind us now and we focus on the next assignments. For sure we will get back to winning ways,” the tactician stated after the loss.

The result saw Sharks drop to eighth in the standings with 15 points, having played one match less than everyone else.

Meanwhile, league leaders Mathare United also saw their unbeaten run checked with a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of bottom side Mount Kenya United in Nakuru.

The Slum Boys were on a brilliant run of 11 games and away at the apex with a six point gap over second placed Bandari while Mount Kenya had lost three of their last four games.

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However, Medo who returned to the side after his short stint at Sofapaka saw them revive hopes of survival with a vital win that took them to six points, four away from safety.

Bandari FC players celebrate one of their four goals against AFC Leopards during their Kenyan Premier League clash at the Mbaraki Complex on February 3, 2019. PHOTO/Bandari

Meanwhile, Bandari FC bounced back to winning ways in resounding fashion, hitting AFC Leopards 4-1 at the Mbaraki Complex.

Bandari had suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Kakamega Homeboyz in midweek, but they bounced back to squeeze the gap between them and Mathare to three points and with a game in hand.

Tusker retained third spot despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Posta Rangers in Machakos, the result bringing to an end a four-match losing streak by John Kamau’s side.

KPL weekend results:

Mount Kenya United 2-1 Mathare United, Posta Rangers 0-0 Tusker FC, Ulinzi Stars 1-1 Chemelil Sugar, Bandari 4-1 AFC Leopards, Zoo Kericho 2-2 KCB, Kariobangi Sharks 0-2 Sofapaka, Nzoia Sugar 3-2 Sony Sugar, Kakamega Homeboyz 1-1 Vihiga United.

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