•The tournament received a Sh 15 million boost yesterday after the federation signed a three-year long deal with Betway
•DDuring the draw conducted yesterday, Betway chairman, Kiprono Kittony, called on other corporates to support football.
Defending champions Bandari have set their sights on returning to continental football as the Football Kenya Federation Shield Cup gets underway this weekend.
Bandari, who won the last edition of the tournament after beating Kariobangi Sharks were a win away from qualifying to the group stages of the Caf Confederations Cup and have reiterated their desire to claim this year’s title and make their way back to continental scene.
The dockers are among the ten Kenyan Premier League sides who were handed a bye in the round of 48 set to kick off this weekend but will face the winner between Reunion and Kenya School of Government(KSG) Ogopa on February 15 in the next round.
The tournament received a Sh 15 million boost yesterday after the federation signed a three-year long deal with Betway. With Bandari punching below their weights in the league, their focus has shifted to retaining the Shield Cup in a bid to return to the Confederations Cup.
The club’s team manager Wilson Oburu, however, admitted that sailing past the winner between Reunion and Ogopa will not be easy and has hence cautioned the players against underrating their opponents.
“We tested continental football last year and we approach the tournament with an intention of retaining the tittle. We know it will not be easy as all teams have a similar objective but we are prepared for it. The players know that winning the cup comes with the platform to showcase their talents beyond borders and ought to take it seriously without underrating opponents,”said the former Kenyan international.
During the draw conducted yesterday, Betway chairman, Kiprono Kittony, called on other corporates to support football. He also appealed to the government to soften their stance in as far as betting regulations and taxation are concerned.
"We are proud of this partnership as it will benefit more clubs that play in the top tiers and at grass-root level. We have been supporting football since 2016 and I call upon companies to invest in the sport. We affirm our commitment to comply with the set of regulations but at the same time, we ask the government to soften their stance on betting laws," he added.
The draw saw league leaders Tusker locked out of the competition to the chagrin of club chairman Daniel Aduda and Chief Executive Officer, Charles Obiny .
“We were invited for the draws and even sent our media liaison to represent us. I do not understand why we were left out," said Aduda.
However, the federation maintained that the 11-time champions had not confirmed participation, thanks to their failure to respond to the invite send to their official email address.
Other KPL clubs, who did not register for the cup are Kakamega Homeboyz, Western Stima, Chemelil Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, Mathare United and Zoo Kericho
Meanwhile, former holders Sharks will play the winner between Kenpoly and Mwatate United while Sofapaka will face either Equity or Balaji. Gor Mahia will have to wait for the winner between Kariobangi Sharks B and Naivas while last year’s semi-finalists KCB will tackle the winner between Zoo Youth and Sindo United.
Full Draw: (Nairobi Water vs Zetech Titans) vs FC Talanta; (Congo Boys vs Tandaza) vs Posta Rangers; (Equity vs Balaji EPZ) vs Sofapaka FC; (Jericho Revelation vs Nation FC) vs Bidco United; (Kenpoly vs Mwatate United) vs Kariobangi Sharks; (Kariobangi Sharks B vs Naivas FC) vs Gor Mahia; (Reunion FC vs KSG Ogopa) vs Bandari; (FC Shells vs SS Assad) vs Fortune Sacco; (MMUST vs Keroka Technical) vs Vihiga United; (Transfoc FC vs Mara Sugar) vs Ushuru; (Zoo Youth FC vs Sindo United) vs KCB; (Butali Sugar vs Flamingo) vs Migori Youth; (Nyabururu Sportif vs Black Diamond) vs Kisumu All-Stars;(Elim FC vs CUSCO) vs AFC Leopards; (Soy United vs Dero FC) vs Wazito; (Luanda Villa vs GDC) vs Ullinzi Stars.