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Big blow? No way: Kariobangi Sharks coach Muluya exudes confidence ahead of Caf Confed debut against Arta Solar despite missing some key players

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Kariobangi Sharks’ coach William Muluya has down played the absence of his three key players ahead of today’s Caf Confederations Cup debut against Arta Solar 7 of Djibouti at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.

Reigning 2018 Most Valuable Player Erick Kapaito, skipper Erick Juma and Emerging Stars’ holding midfielder Sven Yidah will miss the match owing to different injuries.

Kapaito missed yesterday’s training session, thanks to a calf injury while Juma and Yidah sat out of the session with toe and knee injury respectively.

The trio, has been confirmed unfit for the match but Muluya has insisted that he is under no pressure to replace them in the must-win clash.

In Kapaito’s absence, Muluya is likely to pair U-23 forward Sydney Simale and Ugandan George Abege while Sudan’s U-23 skipper Kuol Chol is likely to replace Juma at the back-line. The hard tackling Fidel Oringa may assume Yida’s role in shielding the defence. Muluya said the absence of the trio could turn into a blessing in disguise to players who hardly got playing time. “It’s not a big blow to me as many would like to put it. They are starters in my first team and I am always satisfied with their contribution. Although I would have wished to have them for the match, I am glad I have able replacements and their absence will also give other players an opportunity and bring competition. It’s also a chance for the young players to express themselves.”

Juma, who has battled with reoccurring injuries, expressed optimism in resuming training before the start of the SportPesa Premier League season which is slated to kick off on December 8. “I had a minor surgery on my toe and I am looking forward to resume training before the new season begins. It’s unfortunate I will miss the Caf tie but I believe my teammates will represent us well.”

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The coach, however, admitted having a selection puzzle in his goal keeping department ahead of their Caf Confederations Cup debut against Arta Solar 7 of Djibouti today at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.

Muluya said he was spoilt for choice as three of his shot stoppers muscle to impress at the continental stage against the unheralded opponents who checked in on Sunday.

The 2017 Sports Journalist Association of Kenya (SJAK) goalkeeper of the year and Harambee Stars trialist John Oyemba, National Under 23 Emerging Stars first choice goalkeeper Brian Bwire and Gad Mathews are all eyeing the starting role—a situation which has thrown Muluya in a state of confusion.

Muluya said: “Honestly, I am yet to settle on my first choice goalkeeper for the match since the three have shown quality and potential to play in such a high profile match. They have had a great pre-season and I am glad they have evaded injuries which rocked the department last season. At the end of the day, I will have a starter who will represent the two.”

The former Mathare United coach also know as ‘Kanu’ tipped his youthful squad to announce to announce their arrival on the continental stage in style despite failing to make signings which meet the demands of tournament.

Sharks, who sailed to the continentals by virtue of winning the SportPesa Shield Cup brought in Nixon Omondi from Kenya Police and Rising Stars centre-half Tom Teka from Nzoia Sugar. Muluya believes his squad will sail at least to the group stages.

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