Philip Mwangale will captain Chemelil Sugar FC for the second season in a row having taken the mantle from former skipper Clifford Omondi-now with Stima, before the beginning of the 2019 Kenyan Premier League season.
The sugar millers experienced a lot of financial difficulties at the start of the campaign and a massive player exodus in the midseason was the lowest point of their woes. Up stepped Mwangale- and a lot of players new to the top-flight football and they steered coach Francis Baraza’s ship away from the drop.
The captain says he had been there before.
”I didn’t see any much difference in because I had been there before. The difference between the National Super League and the top flight is also marginal and I didn’t feel any pressure taking up leadership,” he tells Soka after a training session at the Chemelil Sports Complex.
The Center-Back led Patrick Odhiambo’s Agro Chemical FC for two seasons in the second tier, and after the disbandment of the NSL outfit- followed Odhiambo to Chemelil Sugar FC. His former coach currently coaches Gor Mahia FC.
The financial constraints at Chemelil did not end with the player exodus and Mwangale reveals how they managed to weather the storm in the midst of all of it.
”Last season we all know there were many challenges. So for us, we focused on maintaining our premiership status. It was hard but we hard a team of hardworking boys,” he says- adding that it was matches like Gor Mahia and Leopards that they lived for.
”The seemingly biggest matches were the easiest for us- teams like Gor, AFC Leopards, were a lot easier to play than the other ones because when you met teams like Mount Kenya they would make life difficult. The other big teams would at least play football and you would enjoy.”
The team did experience a few exits at the end of the season with players like goalkeeper Morgan Alube (Vihiga United), Vincent Mahiga (KK Homeboyz), Charles Okiya (KK), Lucas Weitere (Stima) all leaving for greener pastures. Mwangale stays put, buoyed by the addition of another set of new players.
”I wouldn’t say we are 100 % now but we are sure of performing better than we did last season. The coach has signed a number of determined boys whom I am sure will help us. Focus is on staying away from the relegation zone as much as we can,” he concludes.
The Sugar millers head to Kericho this Sunday for their opener against Zoo FC. As part of their pre-season preps, they played Kenya Commercial Bank- a barren draw and whipped Muhoroni Youth.