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Bad start cost us league title, says Baraza

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Fapaka head coach John Baraza shouts instructions on the touchline during the Kenyan Premier League match against Gor Mahia at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on February 18, 2019

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Sofapaka could have mounted a better challenge to Gor Mahia for the 2018/2019 Kenyan Premier League title had they started the season better, head coach John Baraza has affirmed.

Batoto ba Mungu effectively saw their charge for a second league title blown away on Sunday after losing 2-0 to the league leaders in Kisumu and Baraza admitted as much.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose by that margin because we played well, Gor Mahia also played well but we didn’t use our chances and Gor used theirs. Congratulations to Gor because now they have defended their title,” Baraza said after the game.

He believes had they started the season better, then they would have been challenging for the crown, their first since their maiden conquest in 2010.

“I believe that’s where we lost the title (starting badly). We really tried to catch up but it was too late. But I think my boys have had a good campaign and now it is up for us to go and regroup and try to finish number two. We wanted to win title its gone, now we have to look at finishing strong,” the tactician stated.

Sofapaka had an unlucky start to the campaign under the tutelage of Melis Medo who was hired at the beginning of the season taking over from Baraza who had been handed the mantle on interim basis in the 2017 season.

Sofapaka FC head coach Melis Medo reacts on the touchline during his side’s Kenyan Premier League match against Ulinzi Stars at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on December 29, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

After winning their opening match 2-1 against Mount Kenya United, Batoto ba Mungu went on a dry run of seven matches, losing two and drawing five.

After that torrid run, Medo decided to resign from his role after the team’s 1-1 draw away to Vihiga United before Baraza took over, leading the team to a run of five wins in six matches, a streak that was broken by Gor Mahia in Nakuru.

But still Sofapaka kept the chase and were undefeated in the next 15 matches, drawing six and winning nine, a streak that was once again broken by Gor Mahia on Sunday in Kisumu.

Baraza now says the team has picked its lessons and will strive to do better next season.

“We now know that when you start well you finish well. I believe that these are the lessons we have picked and next season we will be able to start well and challenge for the league title. Now we just need to go back and regroup and strategize,” the coach stated.

But even as Sofapaka grin over a slow start, they should also be counting the losses of dropping points in matches that they should have been winning.

Sofapaka FC striker John Avire shields the ball against Mathare United’s Andrew Juma during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 28, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Of particular concern are the draws against Mathare United and Tusker FC which came about from winning situations.

Sofapaka were leading twice against Mathare but similar defensive errors saw them drop points in a 2-2 draw. Come the game against Tusker, they were leading 2-0 comfortably but conceded twice in the last 10 minutes to drop points.

Sofapaka’s quest to finish second will come under huge test on May 25 when they play third placed Bandari in Mombasa.

Before then they travel away to Nzoia Sugar and play at home against Chemelil before finishing the season at home against Kakamega Homeboyz.

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