Bandari FC has a desire to end their wait for a SportPesa Premier League title this season, having not tasted top-flight glory in their 33 years of existence.
The dockers have drawn optimism from last season’s second place finish and they could not have wished for a better start in the new look 2018/19 season when they kicked off with a 2-1 victory over champions Gor Mahia on Saturday.
For the title ship to dock at the coast, Bandari has Bernard Mwalala as their captain, the man who took over in July and maintained their good run. Just 33, Mwalala is among the young coaches to watch in the country and his CV suggests he is headed for greatness.
His playing career was cut short by a hip injury in 2011 during a Tanzanian league game with Costal Union.
“I thought it was just a normal injury which would heal within a short period but it turned out to be the one that would end my career,” said Mwalala who played as a striker in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malaysia and Oman for over 12 years.
He used the disappointment as fuel to fire his ambitions into coaching and his first job was with third-division Magomeni FC of Tanzania while just 28. It did not go well and he was sacked, remaining jobless for seven months after.
He got a second chance in February 2013 with Tanzania second division side Muweza FC but after failing to gain promotion to the top flight, he quit and returned to Kenya. His first job back home was with Nzoia Sugar where he led them to a fifth-place finish in the National Super League (NSL) in 2015 before leading them to promotion the following year after finishing top with 92 points from 38 games, nine ahead of second-placed Kariobangi Sharks.
He ensured Nzoia stayed in the top flight in 2017 before he moved to Bandari in July this year, taking over from Ken Odhiambo and he has not looked back.
“I believe we have the best team this season. The teams are intact because as we did not release any player and we are ready for the trophy,” said the tactician who believes the first five matches will give him an indication how they will perform this campaign.