Kenya Cup semis matches lined up for Nakuru
The 2014/2015 Kenya Cup semi-finals will go down at the Nakuru Athletics Club on Saturday afternoon.
Hosts Nakuru, who are gunning for a third consecutive Kenya Cup victory, take on newcomers Kabras Sugar while last season losing finalist Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) play Strathmore University Leos.
The battle for promotion to Kenya Cup will also reaches its peak when Thika and Eldoret host Egerton Wasps and Bungoma Sharks at Thika Stadium and Eldoret Club respectively in the Nationwide League semis with the two finalists earning promotion.
Nakuru made history during the 2012-2013 season, when they became the first side from outside Nairobi to clinch the Kenya Cup trophy under coach Eric Situma.
The Top Fry-sponsored Great Rift side would prove their critics wrong when they retained the diadem last season with coach Dominique Habimana in charge.
Nakuru have not tasted defeat this season but whether they will uphold their winning ways remains to be seen.
Apparently, their closest match was against Kabras Sugar, who restricted them to a 10-13 win in Kakamega on Match Day Two.
BIG MARGIN WIN
“That time they were of unknown quality and we had to take all the precautions,” said Habimana. “We have analysed their systems now and hope for a big margin win.”
Habimana said his team will need to have its concentration level up and take their opportunities especially at the scrums.
“I expect a highly physical match in defense and attack but my boys are looking good and bubbly,” he said.
Habimana expects the return of eighth man Lawrence Buyachi, who missed the previous match. He also expect his Nakuru charges pistons to work well through his captain Mike Okombe and his back-row mates Dalmas Chituyi and Edwins Makori.
Other players who will be key for the Wanyore include fly half Martin Muita and midfielders Kelvin Omiyo and Edwin Okemwa.
Not many would have bet on Kabras reaching the semis but they have tantalized with their hard running, and direct style of play to put themselves within striking distance of the title.
Kabras coach Anthony Ogot, a former KCB forward, acknowledged that Nakuru won’t be an easy nut to crack, having won the regular league unbeaten.
SLUMP IN PERFORMANCE
“I know it won’t be taking on defending champions. But we have been working hard and praying. This is a young side with only five players with Kenya Cup experience,” said Ogot.
The Kenyan internationals in the Kabras squad are Edwin Achayo and Nick Barasa while Dennis Mukabi, Polycarp Odhiambo, Geoffrey Messo and Duncan Mwangi are the others players in the team with Kenya Cup experience.
In the other semi final match, KCB will be eager to uphold their dominance over Leos and replicate the heroics of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 when they won Kenya Cup back-to-back.
The bankers, who mauled Leos 38-17 in Match Day 11 are without Max Adaka who is serving a one match ban after being sent off against Nakuru. Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde takes his position.
Mitch Ocholla’s Leos performance slumped towards the end, losing in their last three matches to Nakuru, KCB and Kabras. But they must rise to the occasion. They lost to Nakuru during the 2012/2013 final.
The Leos welcome back Billy Odhiambo, Tonny Owuor and Mike Wanjala from Kenya Sevens duty with combative back-row Charles Omondi and fly-half Kenny Andola to lead their charge against the bankers.
Kenya Cup semi-finals
KCB vs Strathmore (2pm)
Nakuru vs Kabras Sugar (4pm)
Nationwide League semi-finals
Thika vs Egerton Wasps (3pm)
Eldoret vs Bungoma Sharks (3pm)