One of the most painful moments for Sofapaka in recent times ought to be the 2018 SportPesa Shield loss in the final, to Kariobangi Sharks on 20 October. Head coach John Baraza recalls vividly that afternoon at Moi International Sports Center (MISC) Kasarani, ahead of their clash with the same side on Saturday 2 February.
Sofapaka had just turned the match on its head, recovering from a goal down with two quick goals but were served a taste of their own medicine as Sharks made the most of poor defending from the Sofapaka end to score two quick goals towards the end of the game.
Sofapaka did get a chance to send the match to post match penalties after winning a late spot kick but Kevin Kimani, then at Sofapaka, blasted the penalty wide in what would be the final chance for Batoto Ba Mungu.
Hard to erase
The end result, 3 – 2 not only denied Baraza the chance to win the cup with the side as coach, having earlier won it as a player, it also left a number of dejected souls at the end and signaled sweeping changes in the playing unit.
While this clash will come with its own dynamics, Baraza admits it is hard to erase the memory of that crazy afternoon.
“We still remember that final; it was a painful day for all us and as much as we’d like to forget it and move on, the memories replay in our minds,” Baraza, who would be seen in deep discussion with club president Elly Kalekwa after the final tells Soka.
Perhaps the first game of the month of February serves Sofapaka the platform for revenge, but just how much can the 2009 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) giants get from it? Baraza admits it will be a tough game, just like any other match, but clearly three points will serve to ease the pain.
His team has gotten its mojo back after replacing American born coach, Melis Medo and with two wins and a draw in the last three matches, Baraza hopes to see the fine run stretched further to get the team closer to the leading pack.
He says the preparations have been good and hopes to have all his key players available.
“We have prepared well and we are still going through our paces ahead of the game. It will be tough; of that we are aware, because we are also playing a motivated team, after winning the SportPesa Cup recently.
“Both sides will give a lot in the game and for us the key is to stay cautious throughout the 90 minutes. I have a few knocks here and there but nothing too serious to rule anyone out of the game,” he added.
Sofapaka are yet to record a victory over Kariobangi Sharks in the last six meetings – four in the league and twice in the domestic cup. Baraza will be keen to break that unwanted run.