Sofapaka renew rivalry with Ingwe at Kasarani

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Sunday, September 23rd 2018 at 00:02 GMT +3 | Football
AFC Leopards Andrew Tololwa(R) and Gerald Bagoole of Sofapaka battle for ball possession during their KPL match at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday 09/04/16.PHOTO.BONIFACE OKENDO

Baraza expects a tough match against Shield defending champions.

Sofapaka coach John Baraza expects a difficult and demanding match when three-time FKF SportPesa Shield winners clash with holders AFC Leopards in a highly anticipated semi-final at Kasarani Stadium today at 3.15pm.

The two sides are coming off quite contrasting results. While Batoto Ba Mungu warmed up to the duel with a resounding 4-1 victory over Kakamega Homeboyz in a mid-week Premier League fixture, injury-stricken Leopards faltered 3-1 to Kariobangi Sharks.

The match will be preceded by an early kick off at 1pm between last year’s losing finalists Kariobangi Sharks and former champions Ulinzi Stars at the same venue.

Today’s winners will battle it out in the final scheduled for October 20, with the winners earning Sh2m prize and a ticket to represent the country in next year’s CAF Confederations Cup.

Having lost 2-0 to Leopards at the same stage of the competition in 2013, Baraza is leaving nothing to chance as the Shield is the only realistic chance of both teams winning silverware this season.

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Rodolfo Zapata’s men gunned down Kenya Police 4-1 in the quarter finals in Kakamega as Sofapaka saw off Tusker 2-1 in Machakos.

“We’ve not had a very good season in the league, but I am pleased with how the team has improved. The boys are ready to fight and challenge for the Shield. All the teams at this stage want to represent the country in the Confederations Cup, so don’t expect it to be an easy game,” said Baraza.

“Of course memories of the 2013 defeat are still fresh but we know how good Leopards are. They might have lost to Sharks recently, and that doesn’t mean it is a weak team.

They are the defending champions, playing a good counter-attacking football. However, if we stick to our game plan, we can reclaim the trophy.”

But for Zapata, this is a perfect opportunity for his players to offer a positive response to their league match defeat to Sharks.

“We’ve a chance to show we have character and how strong we are. It’s a tough game.”