Eight East African football teams will be striving to hog the sports headlines in the SportPesa Super Cup which kicks off on Sunday at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.
Kenya’s emissaries in the second edition of the tournament are defending champions Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards as well as Kakamega Homeboyz and Kariobangi Sharks while Tanzania’s representatives are Simba, Young Africans (Yanga), Singida United and Zanzibar champions Jeshi La Kujenga Uchumi (JKU).
Gor open their campaign on Sunday when they face little-known JKU at 3.15pm.
The match will be preceded by the 1pm clash between battle-hardened Yanga and Kakamega Homeboyz while Leopards will launch their campaign against second-time participants Singida on Tuesday.
Simba were the first team to arrive in Kenya on Thursday although they will have to wait until Monday before stalking Kariobangi Sharks.
Although Gor are the defending champions and start as favourties in the tournament, they have their work cut out in the opening match as they are facing a JKU that has grown in stature in recent times.
JKU won the 2017 Zanzibar Premier League and are currently placed third in the ongoing 2018 season and will be more than determined to be a surprise package in the knockout tournament.
However, JKU will be hard-pressed to beat Gor given the Green Army will be at full strength after withdrawing six of their players from the national team that flew to India on Wednesday, ostensibly to concentrate not only on the Super Cup but also the CAF Confederation Cup as well as the SportPesa Premier League.
Admittedly, in Boniface Oluoch, Joash Onyango, George “Blackberry” Odhiambo, Haroun Shakava and Samuel Onyango, JKU will be up against experienced Gor players who have the potential to help the Kenyan champions win a second SportPesa Super Cup title for the second time on the trot.
The second match of the opening draw will pit Homeboyz against Yanga and it’s suffice to say that the latter, who were eliminated by Leopards in the semi-finals of last year’s edition, are the favourites.
However, the fact that football dynamics in Africa have changed is enough reason why Yanga should not underrate Homeboyz.
In any case, Homeboyz is one of the teams exhibiting quality football in the KPL and none other than the club’s chairman Cleophas Shimanyula has stated that they are out to show just what they are made of.
“My club has never played against a foreign side. This tournament gives us an opportunity to show the world that we have talent at the grassroots,” said Shimanyula.