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September 23, 2018

Ingwe on the hunt: Champions Leopards seek solace against Police in Shield Cup tourney

AFC Leopards’ Edward Seda vies for the ball with Gor Mahia’s Ephrem Gukan during a recent match /OLIVER MORGAN
AFC Leopards’ Edward Seda vies for the ball with Gor Mahia’s Ephrem Gukan during a recent match /OLIVER MORGAN

Two successive defeats is not the ideal preparation for a knockout match even against opponents deemed inferior in terms of quality. But it is that form that defending SportPesa Shield champions AFC Leopards will bring with them for a potential banana skin of an encounter against National Super League side Police.

In mitigation for Rodolfo Zapata’s charges recent form, the league had all but gone and their focus had perhaps been turned to the Shield, their last hope of a trophy this season. Still such a patchy run does give opponents confidence that they may cause an upset and none more than Charles Omondi’s law enforcers are in a position to take a huge scalp. Though playing at the Bukhungu Stadium, Leopards will be on red alert to prevent their season petering out in the last two months.

Whyvonne Isuza, arguably a contender for the player of the year award, has looked rusty in the last couple of matches since returning from injury and he will be motivated to rediscover his form in this competition.

He, alongside Ezekiel Odera, have been key to everything good that has happened to Ingwe and they will have to be so again against the second tier outfit. Prior to this 4pm kick off, Ulinzi Stars will take on unfancied Riverplate. The soldiers are odds on favourites to reach the last four even though their league form has been wanting recently.

However, the real action takes place tomorrow as former champions Tusker and Sofapaka duel in Machakos before Gor Mahia take on Kariobangi Sharks. Robert Matano has overseen an upturn in form for Tusker since he took over but even he will be aware that lack of trophies has never been tolerated at Ruaraka.

Standing between him and a last four place is his former side Sofapaka, whom he led to the cup triumph almost a decade ago. Matano boasted that he has never lost duels against teams he previously coached and having outfoxed Sofapaka in the league in their last meeting last month, he will need to do ago to keep that record intact.

Sharks, having reached the semi finals in each of the last three seasons, are undoubtedly the form team in the competition. To keep that proud record, however, they will have to do what they have not managed in four competitive occasions, beat Gor Mahia.

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