SportPesa Shield winners Kariobangi Sharks will play the biggest game in the club’s history, a CAF Confederation Cup tie against Djiboutian opponents Artar Solar at Kasarani this afternoon.
Odds are even between the Kenyan minnows and their opponents from a reclusive state in the wider Eastern Africa whose only participation of note can be found in CECAFA Club Championships.
Sharks are favoured to win at home although they are greatly handicapped by a lack of experience both in the squad and technical bench. None of their players has ever kicked a ball in the continental arena of clubs while head coach William Muluya only possesses two years of experience in Kenya’s top flight and none beyond.
“We are confident of a good showing and will represent the country to the best of our abilities. We have trained well enough to see us through and we just pray that God gives us the strength and wisdom to face our opponents.
The players are confident and want to prove wrong the people who think this level is beyond us so we’ll do our best against Artar Solar,” Muluya said. Sharks trained at Kasarani stadium yesterday and face today’s fixture full of belief. Muluya will have a difficult decision to make between the three goalkeepers at his disposal.
John Oyemba lost his place last season but has improved in training and faces stiff competition from Gad Mathews who grabbed the starting role when the former dipped in form.
National team darling Brian Bwire also gained valuable experience and confidence in turning out for Harambe Stars and Emerging Stars in recent weeks, leaving Muluya with a dilemma on who starts between the sticks.
Defensively, Sharks suffered a blow when stalwart Pascal Ogweno jumped ship to Gor Mahia. Since his departure, South Sudanese Kuol Chol has stepped up and will be the pillar in Muluya’s backline with experienced and skipper Eric Juma offering support.
Kenyan international Patilla Omoto will be Muluya’s midfield anchorman as forwards Harisson Mwendwa, Sydney Lokale, James Mazembe and Eric Kapaito hunt for goals. Sharks are counting on the high Nairobi altitude choking their Djiboutian opponents to lessen their load.
Artar Solar are famed for their short and sleek passing moves that daze their opponents and Sharks plan to play a fast-paced game to cancel the visitors’ threat.