During the 64th round of the GOtv Shield Cup that marked the beginning of the knock-out tournament, Sofapaka were one of the teams which advanced to the 32nd round in the easiest of ways.
‘Batoto Ba Mungu’ as Sofapaka are fondly referred to, whacked minnows Silver Bullets 9-1 to make a statement of intent in the knock-out tournament whose winner will be Kenya’s envoys in the 2018 Confederation of African Football (CAF).
But if Sofapaka overawed Bullets almost into submission, their defining moment on Saturday in the shape of Western Stima in a 32nd round action at Thika sub-county Stadium.
Last week, Sofapaka went down 2-1 to Nakumatt in a league match and thus owe their fans an improved performance. “After falling to Nakumatt, we went back to the drawing board and devised a strategy which we hope will work to our advantage in both the GOtv and Shield Cup,” Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa offered.
And that Ugandan Ali Feni, Timothy Luda and ageless midfielder Hillary Echesa have remarkable fire-power to help Sofapaka reach the pre-quarter final is not in doubt.
However, underrating Stima under coach Henry Omino is the worst Sofapaka can do as the former have dangerous players like Fredrick Shimonyo who has under-lined his scoring prowess so much so that he has not escaped the eyes of national team selectors.
Meanwhile, Robert Matano faces his first test as AFC Leopards returnee coach when the team comes up against Western Stima at the Mumias Complex.
Ingwe were rendered toothless in a 2-0 defeat by Kariobangi Sharks last week and another slump, especially against nondescripts like Stima, will be unacceptable to their faithful. In the absence of stocky Ghanaian Gilbert Fiamenyo who is injured, Leopards can count on the likes of Allan Kateregga and the young Vincent Oburu to deliver the goals.
Still in Mumias, Kakamega Homeboyz are expected to advance to the next stage at the expense of their opponents Zetech University. Camp Toyoyo ground in Jericho will be the setting of a double header, the first match between Wazito and KCB and the second pitting Ushuru against Vihiga United.
In Machakos, Kariobangi Sharks will be lying in wait to devour little-known Kenpoly in pursuit of their first chance to represent Kenya in a continental showpiece.
This is a match in which a goal glut is expected in favour of Sharks and perhaps the man to watch in the team’s frontline are Ovella Ochieng’ and Ibrahim Kitawi.