Defending champions AFC Leopards have a tricky test in form of Shabana when they launch their campaign in the SportPesa Shield Cup which kicks off on June 1 at various grounds in the country.
Tore Bobe will play Ingwe at home in the knock out tournament, hoping to revisit participation in the Africa Cup of Champions Clubs in which they were bundled out by Zambia’s Kabwe Warriors in the first round in 1988.
The Africa Cup of Champions Club has since been renamed CAF Confederation Cup with 64 teams both at the elite and grassroots level scrambling for the sole ticket to be Kenya’s flag bearers next year.
Leopards, 2-0 winners over Kariobangi Sharks in the final of the 2017 GOtv Shield (before SportPesa came on board this year), will use their vast experience to humble Shabana who are featuring in the third tier.
Meanwhile, Gor Mahia open their campaign against little-known SS Assad of Mombasa with the latter having the luxury of playing at home first.
Gor team manager Jolawi Obondo says they cannot afford to underrate SS Assad as they recall bitter memories when they were eliminated by unfancied GFE 105 of Eldoret in the preliminary round three years ago.
“We all remember what happened. We have been taunted ever since the downfall at the hands of GFE and as such, we have learned to respect all teams.
Football dynamics have changed and we have to treat each match with the seriousness it deserves,” said Obondo.
Elsewhere, Tusker face a modest opposition in Taita Taveta Allstars, same as Bandari who have been paired against Berlin FC of Garissa. Sofapaka will be up against the revived Re Union FC.
Selected SportPesa Shield fixtures: (Home teams named first). Wazito vs Nairobi Water, Ushuru vs Nunguni FC, Vihiga United vs Nyamira Allstars, Nzoia Sugar vs Kisumu Dero, , Ulinzi Stars vs Transmilan, Sony Sugar vs Rain Forest, Kariobangi Sharks vs Nanyuki Youth.