Baraza eyes history as Sofapaka play AFC in Shield semis
Baraza optimistic Sofapaka can upset AFC Leopards in Shield Cupsemis
Sofapaka FC coach John Baraza will have his eyes on history when the three time Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield champions take on holders AFC Leopards in the semi-finals of this year’s showpiece on Sunday afternoon at the Kasarani Stadium.
Baraza was at the heart of all of Sofapaka’s three wins in the Shield as a player and now, he wants to go all out and write history by winning it as a coach now, adding a feather to his cap.
“Everyone wants to be a part of history and for me, I will be very happy if I get it. But the most important thing is that we finish the season with a trophy because now the league is gone and we can’t go another year without a title,” Baraza said.
Since winning their last Shield title in 2014 in Nakuru where a Clifton Miheso late goal handed them a 2-1 victory over Posta Rangers at a rain-soaked Afraha Stadium, Batoto ba Mungu have endured a trophy drought.
They finished second in the KPL last season and had hoped to give a charge for the crown this year, but they could not match up the revolving wheels of Gor which made away with the title even before the season came to its home stretch.
With an ambitious owner in Elly Kalekwa, Sofapaka cannot a fourth year sleeping dry.
“There is that pressure of getting the title because Sofapaka is a big club and we have to work hard. But we have to ensure we keep our feet on the ground and play to win. AFC is a big team, they are the defending champions and also want this title. It will not be an easy match,” admitted the tactician.
Leopards have had a hot and cold season in the league and their ever relentless fans want nothing short of a title. Coach Rodolfo Zapata, eager to endear himself to the Ingwe faithful in his first six months in charge wants nothing but a place in the final.
They come into the tie on the backdrop of some questionable form having lost three of their last four games and seem to be losing the spark they had picked up.
In the league this season, the two clubs have sized up to each other, Sofapaka winning 2-1 in the first leg while Ingwe won 1-0 in the corresponding tie.
In the early semi-final, 2016 losing finalists Ulinzi Stars will take on last year’s finalists Kariobangi Sharks in what is a repeat of the 2016 semi where Ulinzi won 4-1 at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru. Sharks come into the tie breathing some huge form having won four straight matches and booked a semis ticket after beating 10-time champions Gor Mahia in the quarters.
“We want to go one better because we have done well in this competition. In 2016 we reached the semis, last year we are in the final and this year, why not win it. We expect a tough game but we are ready for it,” Sharks head coach William Muluya said.