Stage has been set for the round of 16 of the Football Lenya Federation (FKF) SportPesa Shield between this weekend and next Wednesday with six matches scheduled for live broadcast.
Four of the eight matches lined up will be played at the Narok Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
Defending champions AFC Leopards and their perennial rivals Gor Mahia have been exempted from the weekend’s knock-out tournament as they will be engaged in the Mashemeji Derby at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani on Sunday.
The two giants will be watching the Shield from the periphery before resuming action on Wednesday in the tournament whose winner will represent Kenya in the 2019 CAF Confederations Cup.
On Saturday, non-league sides Leysa FC and Friendzone will be hoping to pull yet another upset when they come up against Kenya Police and Riverplate respectively at the Narok Stadium. Kenyan Premier League sides Tusker and Sofapaka will also be in action against Bungoma Super Stars and Western Stima respectively at the same venue on Sunday.
Suffice to say, Tusker and Sofapaka start firm favourites against their respective opponents although the worst they can do is to underrate their opponents given that football dynamics have changed.
Gor have their own experience relating to this school of thought after they were eliminated by underdogs GFE 105 of Eldoret in the 2014 edition on post-match penalties, a result which still haunts the green army up to now.
Two matches will be played on Wednesday in Kasarani to sum up the round of 16 action.
Two days after squaring it out with Gor, Leopards will face off with Division One side Mwatate United in the first match of a double-header in Kasarani before K’ogalo squares it out with fellow SportPesa Premier League side Posta Rangers.
In the meantime, former Gor goalkeeper Jerim ‘Jagoal” Onyango has given plaudits to the team for their consistency, adding that he believes K’Ogalo is capable of revisiting its yesteryear glory.
In a phone interview with Wikendi Sport, Onyango said he was particularly impressed with Gor’s performance in the 4-0 annihilation of Yanga of Tanzania in a CAF Confederation Cup match in Nairobi last Wednesday.
“The huge win over Yanga was full-proof that the team is making headways and very soon, Gor will be a force to reckon with not only in East Africa but the whole of Africa. The payers need to keep working hard to achieve the desired goals,” said Onyango.
In a nutshell, Onyango said with good preparations, Gor is capable of beating much stronger opposition in USM Alger in the return match in Algerian capital later this month.
“Looking at Gor’s current agility, they can make life difficult on the pitch for USM Alger and I can only urge the players to continue believing in themselves and the rest shall fall in place,” said Onyango.
– CHARLES THUKU