What you need to know:
- ‘We haven’t prepared well like most teams, but we believe the young players from the academy will be ready to utilise their opportunity to play in the top league,’ says coach
- The Nairobi-based club lost 15 of its first team players ahead of the new 2022/23 league season, but coach William Muluya has brought in a number of youngsters from the youth team, ahead new season currently marred with a lot of controversies
Kariobangi Sharks are building a young and exciting team following a massive exodus of regulars as they expect a great start to the new season expected to kick-off on September 10.
The Nairobi-based club lost 15 of its first team players ahead of the new 2022/23 season, but coach William Muluya has brought in a number of youngsters from the youth team, ahead new season currently marred with a lot of controversies.
“We lost a large number of players who were attracted by better offers elsewhere, and the departures were occasioned by our financial difficulties.
“We haven’t prepared well like most teams, but we believe the young players from the academy will be ready to utilize their opportunity to play in the top league,” Muluhya said on the sidelines of their pre-season friendly match against Nation FC at Nairobi’s Camp Toyoyo on Saturday.
Sharks, who have not signed any player from the Premier League ranks, finished 10th last season and currently are involved in friendly matches after a two weeks break that was occasioned by the general election.
“We were among the title contenders last season, before a couple of rough patches saw us slip off in the race only to finish 10th.
“We have not been very active as others teams, but we are rebuilding to start afresh.”
According to Muluya, who is on a restructuring mission, league champions Tusker FC are likely to sign defenders Bonface Onyango and Tom Teka, while Douglas Mokaya and Felix Oluoch have joined Bandari FC.
Kenya Police were not left behind as they managed to capture international midfielder Patillah Omotto, top defender Geoffrey Shiveka and attacking midfielder Eric Juma.
Posta Rangers have recruited keeper Brandon Obiero and striker Patrick Otieno, while Sofapaka have snatched defender Samuel Olwande from Sharks.
“There are teams in the league that currently pay better and some of these players have moved to such teams, and we have let them leave and achieve their dreams. We are not going to hold onto a player that wants to leave,” he said.
Among the young players elevated from the youth team include Mathew Kibiwott, Geoffrey Onyango, Ian Omondi and Isaac Otieno. Sharks recently unveiled 17 teenagers to replace fleeing seniors who have left for greener pastures.
So far players who have bid their farewell messages include long serving Omotto, Olwande, Tom Teka, Douglas Mokaya, Enock Wanyama, Alphonce Omija, Brian Olang’o, Brandon Obiero, Ziyadi Kiwanuka, Bonface Onyango, Shiveka, Eric Mata, Felix Oluoch, Stephen Otieno, Patrick Otieno and Juma.
Speaking separately, club chairman Robert Maoga, said he is confident the young players expected to fit in the shoes of their predecessors are looking forward to give their best.
“We have already replaced the players who left. There have been rumours flying around that the club is on the verge of sinking into oblivion, but I want to assure all that, we are here to stay. We are building a young team that will be competitive enough. Our young team is gelling and will be ready to compete effectively.”
“Players requested for their release letters and we had to let them go, considering that some have good offers elsewhere.
“The kind disorder in Kenyan football poses a big challenge to our players and if one has the opportunity to cross boarders, we have no reason to stand in his way,” added Maoga.
Kariobangi Sharks is a Kenyan football club based in Nairobi and founded in the slums of Kariobangi, Nairobi County, with the aim of reducing crime in the populated estate.
It was founded in 2000 by the former FKF President Nick Mwendwa, as football was one of the escape route for the youth trapped in the dangerous hustle and bustle.
A set of young footballers used to play at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the estate mostly after school going hours and during the weekends as a leisure activity, before the team was registered to start playing in the lower ties since 2001, before they were promoted to the Premier League in 2017.
The team reached the FKF Cup final for the first time in what was also the first season in the top tier league, bust lost 2-0 to AFC Leopards the same year, but the young team would finish an impressive 3rd place in the top league.
The same year, Sharks produced the top scorer, Masoud Juma (17 goals) and the league best keeper, John Oyemba who kept 16 clean sheets.
In 2018, Sharks won their first major trophy as they returned to the Football Kenya Federation Cup final again beating Sofapaka 3-2.
League Top Scorer
The same year, Sharks produced the league’s Most Valuable player in Erick Kapaito.
The striker won the League Top Scorer and the New Player of the Year awards and was also second in the League Fair Play Award of the season as he was never booked the entire season, with the team finishing sixth in the league.
In the 2018/2019 season, Sharks played in the CAF Confederation Cup qualifiers for the first time, beating Djibouti’s Arta Sola FC in the first round before they were eliminated by Ghana’s Asante Kotoko in the second round.
They got to the Cup final for the third season in row but this time lost 3-0 to Bandari FC and finished the league placed eighth.
Sharks 2 Nation FC 1
In a pre-season friendly match played at Camp Toyoyo, Saturday morning, Sharks beat Nation FC 2-1 in an exciting pre-season friendly.
Sharks, who were the hosts led at the break in the 6am kick-off after a free header by Mathew Kibiwott following Fredrick Alushula’s pass, before Titus Mbithi equalised after Augustine Kuta’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper.
John Otieno scored the winner with five minutes left from a free-kick after the Nation FC goalkeeper overstepped the box while releasing the game up-field.
Nation FC was a much improved side from the squad that lost their recent top flight friendly matches against other Premier League clubs Bandari FC, Kenya Police FC and APS Bomet.
In another build-up match also played at Camp Toyoyo later in the afternoon, Sharks were held to a 2-2 draw by Bidco United.
Both of Sharks’ goals came through Julius Masaba.