Valiant Baraza unfazed by major exits, plots for better season

In the 2018/19 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) campaign, Sofapaka, led by coach John Baraza was one of the closest challengers to eventual winners, Gor Mahia and the heavy price he’s had to pay ahead of the 2019/20 season, is seeing a number of his key players depart. He is however approaching the season bravely, with hopes of sending out another strong side.

The 2009 KPL champions resumed training ahead of the new season on Monday 15 July, with a number of big players absent, including Steven Waruru, Pistone Mutamba, Cliff Kasuti, Mike Oduor and Ugandan Umaru Kasumba, the team’s lead scorer in 2018/19.

Mechanism to replace

The five have been released and while their exits will be felt, Baraza is confident he will find a mechanism to replace them and is sure the team will cope.

“These were key men for us last season. They are very talented players but then football is business and we wish them well. We will definitely find replacements and still try to challenge,” he told Soka.

Pistone and Oduor have left for Wazito FC while Kasuti is said to be on his way to Bandari and Waruru has generated interest from KCB, with Kasumba attraction a number of offers from far and wide upon the expiry of his contract.

Granted wish

“Pistone felt he wanted to rejoin Wazito and so after talks we granted him his wish, while Kasuti felt he didn’t play a lot here last season and said he can reestablish himself at Bandari so we released him with our blessings.

“As for Waruru, his contract had elapsed and he felt it wise to advance his career elsewhere. He served Sofapaka well and it was just wise that we reciprocate by granting him his wish.

Wazito target

“Mike, on the other hand, emerged as a big target for Wazito and the two clubs had talks and he was released while Kasumba saw the end of his contract in June and he said he had a lot of offers from Europe and Africa so we allowed him to take the next career step,” he added.

Sofapaka finished third in the league last season, with 62 points, 10 behind champions Gor Mahia and in the season, the five departing players scored a combined 29 goals.