A young baseball player in Nakuru's Elburgon area. The game is becoming increasingly popular.
Nakuru Top Fry AllStars football club has arrived in Awendo, south Nyanza, to take on SoNy Sugar FC in the first Tusker Premier League match for the newly promoted side.
Having finished 11th in last season’s campaign, SoNy Sugar is expected to provide a tough test for the side which was relegated 40 years ago but topped the Division One league last year, thereby securing a spot in the playoffs, where they saw off Naivasha’s Oserian FC to win promotion.
But Nakuru Top Fry tactician Oliver Page, who was hired three weeks ago to manage the club, says he is ready for the premier league challenge and is optimistic his side will have a positive result on match day one.
“We want to start well and in the least, a point will be good enough for us, but that does not mean we are not going there to win,” Page said.
“Our target is to ensure we post a positive result that will give us some good footing going into the league. Awendo is a tough hunting ground and we expect a tough game. I know coach Zedekiah Otieno is very good tactically and I expect it to be a very competitive match,” he added.
Top Fry will have to cope without the services of three key players who have been sidelined due to of injuries. Wilson Andati, whose goal saw them promoted to the top flight, Maurice Odhiambo and goalkeeper Stanlus Akiya will all watch the match from the stands.
“It will be a blow missing these players as we start the league. Maurice has been struggling with a knee injury that kept him out until December last year and missing his experience for the league start will be a blow to us,” Mr Page said.
Champions Mwamba, Kenya Cup titleholders Nakuru, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Nondiescripts have been given byes to the quarter-finals of the 2014 Enterprise Cup.
Both teams reached the quarterfinals last year but its Mwamba who had the last laugh, reclaiming the title they held last in 2006, beating Nakuru 15-10 in a tight final at the RFUEA grounds.
It’s Mwamba, who hounded out Nondies 35-25 while Nakuru silenced Nakuru 21-9 to face-off in a rematch of the 2009 final where the Great Rift side that is sponsored by Top Fry oil prevailed 34–24 for their last title in the contest.
This should present an opportunity especially for Mwamba and Nondies to win silverware this season, having almost lost the battle for the Kenya Cup league title.
The Kenya Cup semi-final places are almost a done deal with Nakuru, KCB, Quins and Strathmore having All but secured the slots.
Mwamba, who have won the title four times, will meet the winner between Impala and Mombasa Sport Club on March 15. The Coastal side will host the Gazelles in Mombasa in the pre-quarterfinals of championship that gets under way March 8.
MOST SUCCESSFUL CLUB
Nakuru, who made history last season when they became the first club outside Nairobi to clinch Kenya Cup, will take on the winner between Homeboyz and Blak Blad from Kenyatta University.
Nine-time champions Kenya Harlequin will host Western Bulls with the winner getting a date with KCB while Nondies, who have won 25 Entreprise titles, will either meet Strathmore or the University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine. Nondies last won both Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup in 1998.
“We shall have to work hard since the matches that have cost us in kenya cup are those that we lost by a small margin,” said Nondies coach Kanyi Gitonga.
“Enterprise Cup is a long way to go hence let us see how our remaining Kenya Cup matches go.”
Nondies that are placed sixth with 30 points in Kenya Cup, 19 points off leaders Nakuru while Mwamba are eighth won 27 points.