NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Former Kenyan Premier League champions Sofapaka have signed Togolese shot stopper N’Guissan Djehani Yao to fill the gloves left vacant by Burundian Justin Ndikumana who left the club to join Bandari FC.
Yao, who won the Togolese Premier League title with ASCK arrived in the country in the wee hours of Thursday morning and was unveiled alongside 10 other new players that Batoto ba Mungu have shipped in.
“I am excited to come to Kenya, it is my first time in this side of the world and I look forward to the challenge. I am up to the task from the experience in Togo and hopefully I can help Sofapaka,” Yao told Capital Sport.
Sofapaka had earlier brought on a Ugandan keeper, Jimmy Kanakulya, but the technical bench was unconvinced with his services.
The Togolese was handed the number one jersey and he will compete for the starting slot with Isaiah Wakasala and Richard Aimo. He is however yet to be cleared to make his debut when Sofapaka start their new campaign at home against Posta Rangers on Friday.
Batoto ba Mungu who have endured five years without major silverware will hope to challenge for the league crown this time round and club owner Elly Kalekwa has insisted that is their lone target for the new campaign.
“We have to go for the league title because it has been 10 years since we won it. We have that hunger and I know the players we have brought on board will help us achieve that feat.
Yao will join a foreign legion that has four Ugandans; Mohammed Kasirye from Paidha Black Angels, Allan Katwe from Nkumba University, striker Peter Lwasa from URA FC and defender Musa Malunda from Bul FC.
The five foreigners who have been roped in courtesy of a new partnership the club signed with Singaporean based company Living 3D. The company will cater for the salary of the coach and players.
Apart from the five, Sofapaka have signed six local based players including the return of striker Brian Nyakan who left for Mount Kenya United. The team has also signed Timonah Wanyonyi, formerly with Mount Kenya United, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia.
Alsso joining the former champions is striker Philip Muchuma from Chemelil, midfielder Cercidy Okeyo from Gor Mahia left back Derrick Wafula from City Stars while Juma Sudi has been promoted from the junior team.
But the biggest task for new coach Divaldo Alves and his technical bench will be to fill the void left by several key players after the close of the 2018/2019 season. Keeper Ndikumana, defender Mousa Omar and striker Umaru Kasumba were vital pieces of the jigsaw that left.
Also leaving the club was midfielder Dennis Odhiambo and forwards Stephen Waruru, Mike Oduor and Piston Mutamba.
Kasumba is arguably the biggest miss for Sofapaka, the forward having netted double-digit goals since he arrived three years ago. In Ugandan Lwasa, they hope to fill the void left by the talisman who is now in Zambia with Zesco United.
“I am satisfied with the players we have. I have seen them in training and I love their hunger and desire to work. Of course we have a lot of polishing to do but I am optimistic that we have a good team,” he stated.
Sofapaka finished the just concluded season at third place having started the season poorly with just one win from eight games. This is one of the areas they will look to ensure they erase and a good start is something top of their agenda.
“If we had picked at least four or five wins from the seven games we dropped points, I think we would have been contesting for the title. It is one of the tough lessons we have to pick from last season and hopefully we start well. Everyone is focused and we want to get good results,” skipper George Maelo added.
Coach Alves will be marking his first competitive game in Africa and despite not knowing the terrain too well, the Portuguese coach born in Angola is hopeful of a good start.