KenyanStar in an article by Timothy Olobulu reports:-
Come Wednesday the 29th of June, the Nyayo National Stadium floodlights will breathe fire; literally. Just after hosting another fireball between Thika United and Tusker FC, the league’s two “big cats” Sofapaka and AFC leopards will purr, just to know who is “sweeter” than the other.
Coming off from an impressive league and continental record Sofapaka will seek to make it another big victory in the league as they seek to put back their title ambitions on track. AFC leopards on their side will come in as a revamped side; eight new signings and a renewed vigor.
The last time AFC Leopards won a match was on the 2nd of May when they beat Bandari 2-0, which was also Nick Yakhama’s first match in charge. They have gone on to lose thrice and drawn once in their consecutive four matches. They lost to Thika United in Mumias before playing out to a 1-1 draw with Yakhama’s immediate former team Chemelil, lost 1-2 to Sony at home then 1-0 against Mathare United.
For Sofapaka, the worst result they have registered in their last six games is a 3-0 loss away to Club Africainne in the CAF confederations cup. In the league, the worst result in their last four games was a 0-0 draw against Western Stima at Bukhungu. They have registered huge wins including a 5-0 thrashing of Congo United and a 4-1 beating of Thika.
Sofapaka coach Francis KImanzi says that they are fully focused on the league now that the CAF duties are over. He says that some poor results they were registering in the league there before were due to the clogging of fixtures.
“We played three leagues within a week and there was no way we were gong to ave good results in all of them. We had put more concentration on CAF and now that we are out, we will remain focused on the league”, he said after the 4-1 thrashing of Thika.
AFC Leopards coach Nick Yakhama is a man under siege. He told AFC leopards fans that they should not expect to win the league this season, something that did not go down well with them. Just last week during the unveiling of new players, Club Chairman Alex Ole Magelo told him that there is no excuse of not posting good results with the kind of players they have aquired during the transfer window.
Yakhama now says that he does not feel the pressure from the fans nor the chairman but the only pressure he has is pressure to win the match.
“I have no pressure from fans or from the chairman because that is normal for them to demand results. I am under pressure from my own jurisdiction as a coach to produce a win”, he says.
He adds that he is ready for a win when they face Sofapaka tonight and adds that the new players will add some gas into his system. He says that he is yet to decide whether he wil use all of them or not.
“Okwemba is out because he was suffering from Malaria. Syongoh will also be out. All the other six will be available and I am yet to make a decision whether I will field all of them or not. I have trained with them for only three days but I expect some positive result from them. Sofapaka is a good side with experienced players and they have had time to gel together”, he adds.
Head to head record:
Out of their four meetings since 2009 when Sofapaka made a debut and won the league, AFC Leopards has only won once against Batoto Ba Mungu with their best result being a draw.
In 2009, the two teams drew 1-1 in the first leg before Sofapaka came back with a resounding 4-1 victory in the second leg. Last season, AFC cast the first stone winning the first leg 1-0 while the second leg will forever become un-scratched from the minds of Ingwe fans.
After being beaten 4-2, then Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa is alleged to have raised his middle finger at AFC fans, who in retaliation turned violent, leading to their 3match ban.
Away from their past meetings, in the league currently, Sofapaka stand ahead of Ingwe in the league standings. Batoto Ba Mungu are placed 7th with 20 points while Ingwe lie 12th on 16 points.
Out of their 14 matches this season, Sofapaka has won 5, drawn a similar number and lost four. They have kept a total of seven clean sheets, while failing to score in similar matches. They have scored an average of at least a goal per match. Their biggest victory still remains to be the 5-0 Congo whooping while their biggest loss is the 0-2 defeat at the hands of Rangers. They have scored a total of 17 goals while conceding 10.
For AFC Leopards, they have played 13 matches so far, won 5, drew one and lost seven. Theie biggest victory was earlier in the season when they beat Rangers 3-1 while their heaviest defeat was the 2-0 beating by Thika United. AFC custodian Barnabas Tiema who has witnessed a rise in form has kept at least three clean sheets. Ingwe has struck the net 11 times with their opponents retaliating, banging 13 goals on their faces.
This match is poised to be as breathtaking as it sounds with both teams expected to play speedy football. Sofapaka are known for their tactical approach and their main arsenal lie in extremely fast counter attacks powered by thunder-speed wingers.
Bob Mugalia, Patrick Kagogo and Thomas Wanyama (who surprisingly will be up against his Father’s team) might just be the chief destroyers for Sofapaka. Kagogo commonly referred to as Petit is a player whose small structure might fool you to dismiss him. But once he lays his feet on the ball and gets on the go, the destruction he might cause is unquestionable. Bob Mugalia is another character almost similar to Kagogo. He only adds shooting power and a goal hungry nature to it. Thomas “Heskey” Wanyama’s speed on the right side of defense, his accurate crosses and dead ball speciality are Sofapaka’s assets.
AFC Leopards wil have to be steady especially in defense. Their new signings Collins Kisuya and Papi Naimana are expected to bring stability to the defense. The spicing up of the attack by former Ulinzi striker Mike Barasa will be the much needed relief for Ingwe as goal scoring has been their major undoing.
Probable line ups
Francis Kimanzi is a man known to retain his winning formula. The team that beat Thika is likely set to remain the same.
George Opiyo will guard goal with Thomas Wanyama and Idrissa Rajab pulling wide in defense on the right and left consecutively. Central defense will most likely see Edgar “Fighter” Ochieng and Dodo Kayombo partner. In midfield, Mudde Musa might start at the centre alongside Humphrey Mieno who will most likely be playing jis final match before he heads to Tunisia. Titus Mulama and Patrick Kagogo might pull strings on the wings with Bob Mugalia and Captain John Baraza doing duty in attack.
Barnabas Tiema is expected to keep guard at goal while the defense wil most likely comprise of Collins Kisuya on the left, Papi Naimana on the right, while Martin Imbalambala and Edgar Waudo might make the partnership at the centre.
In midfield, Captain Nicholas Muyoti might partner with Liberian Abraham Cokie at the centre. Silas Aluvisia and Laurent Tumba might be deployed to the wings. The attack is most likely going to be comprised of Mike Barasa and Emmanuel Tostao.
Elsewhere, sources have revealed the line ups as follows:-