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TOUGH TASK FOR ULINZI IN EGYPT: Soldiers to miss services of Makwatta in tie against Egypt's Smouha today

FOOTBALL By Gilbert Wandera | March 10th 2017
Oscar Wamalwa of Ulinzi stars dribbles past Robinson Kamura AFC Leopards during a friendly match played at Nakuru Afraha stadium on March 4,2017.They drew 0-0. PHOTO:KIPSANG JOSEPH

Former Kenyan Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars will once again miss striker Mark Makwatta when they take on Egyptian side Smouha in today’s CAF Confederations Cup first round match.

Makwatta was the top scorer on the local scene last season and has opted to seek greener pastures in Slovakia and has already handed in his resignation to the Kenya Defence Force.

He last played for the soldiers last month against Libya‘s Al Hilal Benghazi where he provided an assist for the sole goal that took the match to post-match penalties with Ulinzi Stars winning to make it to the first round.

In the absence of Makwatta, Ulinzi Stars coach Benjamin Nyangweso will have to rely on Enosh Ochieng and Baron Oketch. Of the two, Ochieng is the best bet for goals given his experience. He played in most matches for the soldiers last season.

Oketch on the other hand spent a considerable amount of time on the bench while at Gor Mahia and coming to Ulinzi where he is on loan was supposed to give him more playing time which he is already getting.

Experienced goalkeeper James Saruni is another of the reliable players in the team Nyangweso will be relying on to carry his side to the second. Saruni was instrumental in helping the soldiers make it to this round after he saved one of the penalties at the preliminary stage where the team locked out Al Hilal Benghazi 5-4 on penalties.

The soldiers prepared for today’s match with a barren draw against AFC Leopards last Saturday at Afraha.

Despite this being the only build-up match by the soldiers, coach Nyangweso expressed satisfaction with the team’s preparations and expressed confidence it will go a long way to help them do well today.

Nyangweso was impressed with the general organisation of the squad, but still decried lack of goals.

“It was a very good match against a tough opponent and I am happy with the way we played. In terms of organisation and team shape there has been great movement and I have no doubt we are ready for our opponents in Egypt,”  the coach said.

He added: “We still have some things to do in terms of finishing but overall, I am pleased with how the team is after the two weeks of training.”

Kenyan clubs have always struggled against Egyptian opposition and today’s match is expected to be no different for the soldiers.

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