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‘Calabar junior’ vows to fill Mulumba shoes

Bandari FC defender Bernard Odhiambo attempts to tackle a KCB opponent during a past Kenyan Premier League match at the KPA Mbaraki Sports Club. PHOTO/Bandari FC

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – After overcoming an injury nightmare that saw him stay out for 11 months, Bandari FC defender Bernard Odhiambo is confident he can step up and fill the void left by the club’s immediate former skipper Felly Mulumba.

The Congolese defender left Bandari for Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum and Odhiambo, younger brother to Kenyan international David ‘Calabr’ Owino is tasked with stepping up and providing a resolute defensive cover.

“I believe I can do it because I played with him before I got injured and I have been in the team long enough. I have played a few games and I feel my form is coming back,” Odhiambo, who has previously featured for Nakuru All Stars and Gor Mahia, said.

The defender had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament strain and had to stay out for seven months before starting rehabilitation for three months.

“It has been a difficult time for me to be honest. Staying out for that long is depressing for any player. No one wants to have an injury especially at a time when they have picked up in form and it was a bit tough for me,” the defender said.

Bandari FC defender Bernard Odhiambo in action during a past match at the KPA Mbaraki Sports Club. PHOTO/Bandari FC

He added; “But I thank my teammates and the team management too for the support they offered me. In other clubs sometimes a player is dropped when they have a long term injury but Bandari stuck by me and helped to get me treated.”

For their kindness, Odhiambo now hopes he can play a vital role to see the club finish in a good position in the KPL as well as an assault at the defense of their Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield title.

“It is the best I can do for them with my performance on the pitch. They have been so kind to me and I feel I need to give them a token of appreciation,” he further stated.

He has already played four matches; the league ties against Posta Rangers, Homeboyz and KCB as well as last weekend’s FKF Shield tie against KSG Ogopa in Machakos.

He will also be at the centre of action on Saturday when they host Mathare United on Saturday, a match he believes will be tough but winnable.

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“At this moment, there is improved confidence in the team and the players are more determined to see that we raise our game. It will be a tough match for us but everyone knows how important three points will be for us,” he added.

Bandari head coach Kennedy Odhiambo giving instructions to his players in a past Kenyan Premier League match. Photo/Raymond Makhaya

This will be new boss Ken Odhiambo’s first match in charge since his return to the stable. Odhioambo, who coached the Dockers in 2016, returns after the exit of Bernard Mwalala who had been asked to step aside after a run of poor results.

He will face a tough Mathare side they have only beaten once in 19 matches. The two sides have drawn 11 times while seven of their fixtures went to the Slum Boys’ way.

Salim Ali’s men have blown hot and cold this season, and are placed ninth in the standings with 26 points, three ahead of the dockers who are placed two places lower.

KPL Weekend Fixtures (kick off 3pm unless stated)

Saturday: Bandari vs Mathare United (Mombasa, 2pm), Posta Rangers vs KCB (Machakos), Western Stima vs Kariobangi Sharks (Kisumu), AFC Leopards vs Sofapaka (Mumias, 4pm).

Sunday: Homeboyz v Chemelil Sugar (Kakamega), Tusker FC v Wazito (Ruaraka), Ulinzi Stars vs Kisumu All Stars (Nakuru), Zoo Kericho vs Gor Mahia (Kericho).

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