SportPesa Shield Cup semi-finals enters the semi final stage this weekend at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC), Kasarani with AFC Leopards, Kariobangi Sharks, Ulinzi Stars and Sofapaka all flexing their muscles in search of a chance of securing the ticket to represent Kenya in the2019 CAF Confederation Cup.
Besides playing in the big time Africa event, at stake for the winning team is Sh 2 million courtesy of the sponsors, SportPesa.
Incidentally, the semi-finals are pressure-cookers in their own right and while 2017 runners-up Sharks face Ulinzi Stars in the first match at 1.00pm, defending champions Leopards stalk Sofapaka in a battle of ’cats”thereafter at 3.15 pm.
The semi-finals of the knock out tournament that had initially been slated for the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos were switched to Kasarani by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) in a bid to attract a bigger crowd. The final has been scheduled for October 20 at the same venue and will also be used to commemorate the national Mashujaa Day.
For Leopards, they will be gunning to cast away the harrowing experience of an ignominious 3-0 defeat by Sharks in a league match in Machakos last weekend, a result Ingwe coach Rodolfo Zapata attributed to blunt attacking force. “Our main undoing was in attack.
I felt we created many chances but we did not take them. They (Sharks) carved their own and utilised them and that was the difference. With the Shield Cup coming, we really need to work on that and hope to get a win to take us to the finals,” said Zapata.
On the flip side, Leopards have a penchant of always rising to the occasion in the crucial stages of the Shield Cup and Sofapaka should not expect things to be any easy.
In the meantime, Ulinzi Stars can’t help but go into the match against Sharks oozing confidence after they stopped Gor Mahia 2-0 in the league front last week.