Sharks Itch For A Bite Of SportPesa Cup Glory Ahead Of Electrifying Yanga Clash

Jan 09 - by Louis Kalinga for SportPesa News

Kenya Cup holders out to make an impact on their second attempt at regional knockout tournament in Tanzania

Kariobangi Sharks FC coach William Muluya with some players during a recent training session in Nairobi. PHOTO/SPN

  • This will be their second run at the eight-team knockout competition having seen their debut last year in the Kenyan lakeside of Nakuru ended at the first hurdle when Yanga arch rivals Simba SC knocked them out in the last eight at Afraha Stadium
  • Sharks beat Sofapaka FC 3-2 in an enthralling encounter at the Kasarani Stadium on Saturday, October 20, 2018 to win the Shield- a maiden cup for the SPL side
  • Gor traveled to the United Kingdom for a return fixture at the iconic Goodison Park, a match that ended 4-0 to the hosts

NAIROBI, Kenya- Kariobangi Sharks FC are aiming to go deeper than last year when they play in their second SportPesa Cup tournament later this month, first setting sights on upsetting home favourites and record Tanzania league winner Yanga SC in the quarterfinals.

This will be their second-successive run in the eight-team knockout competition having seen their debut last year in the Kenyan lakeside of Nakuru ended at the first hurdle when Yanga arch rivals Simba SC knocked them out in the last eight at Afraha Stadium.

The William Muluya-coached side paid the penalty of not being able to convert the chances they created as they went down 3-2 on post-match spot kicks to the beaten finalists.

However, having won the Kenyan domestic cup- SportPesa Shield- last season, the team believes they have the ammunition and momentum of advancing past the last eight.

Captain Eric Juma, who will lead his team onto the National Stadium in Dar on January 22 when they face the record 27-time Tanzania league winners was non-committal on their tactical strategy but declared that they are prepared for the task.

“This is a great opportunity for K Sharks and we are grateful for a second chance to show the region what we can do.

“It’s encouraging to be able to play against other big teams from East Africa, we are ready to prove that we are of the same caliber as them,” Juma stressed .

Sharks will battle Vodacom Premier League (VPL) leaders Yanga on the opening day after their fellow SportPesa Premier League outfit Bandari FC go up against another home side, Singida United FC.

Yanga sit at the top of the VPL, 10 points clear of their closest challengers in their quest to reclaim the title from Simba and face a team that is lying fifth in the SPL four points off the summit.

“We have watched Yanga play and in a game of football, anything is possible. I'm confident that if we stick to the plan that the coach has set and we give it our all, we will come out victorious and qualify for the semis,” Juma added.

Maiden Cup

Sharks established in 2000 have emerged as a force to reckon with in Kenyan football with heaps of talent in the rather young squad of players.

Sharks beat Sofapaka FC 3-2 in an enthralling encounter at the Kasarani Stadium on Saturday, October 20, 2018 to win the Shield- a maiden cup for the SPL side.

They followed up the victory with a 1-0 win against SPL champions Gor Mahia FC in December to be crowned Kenyan Premier League Super Cup Champions.

“I'm happy with the progress we are making as a team and I have no doubt that the boys will put on a show in Dar.

“We have our expectations and plans we are setting as a team. The tournament is definitely not going to be an easy one but we are prepared to do our best,” head coach Muluya offered.

The week-long tournament comes with a USD30,000 winners' cash prize but the ultimate reward is a chance for the champions to host English Premier League’s Everton FC.

This will be nine-time English Champions second visit to East Africa after their first tour of Tanzania in 2017 where they played a friendly with Gor, with the visitors prevailing 2-1 at the National Stadium.

Gor traveled to the United Kingdom for a return fixture at the iconic Goodison Park, a match that ended 4-0 to the hosts.

“It’s every African player’s dream to play in the EPL and it’s no different for myself and my teammates.

“The opportunity to welcome Everton and show the world the talent Kenyans have to offer, would be a memory none of us would ever forget,” Juma insisted.