Unbeaten Ulinzi tackle Nairobi City Thunder

By francis marangu
May 11, 2017
  • Kevin Chogo, one of the best defensive players will not be in the Nairobi City Thunder colors in the match against Ulinzi. (SNA. File Photo)

  • Ulinzi put their unbeaten record on the line against a tricky Nairobi City Thunder on Sunday. (SNA. File Photo)

  • William Balozi, the Ulinzi coach has predicted a tough match against Nairobi City Thunder. (SNA. File Photo)

  • Shem Otieno (L) is another key departure from Nairobi City Thunder. (SNA. File Photos)

Nairobi City Thunder boasts of quality depth for the 2017 season and that could be a key factor in their men’s Premier League match against Ulinzi Warriors on Sunday at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium.

So far, Thunder has lost two matches while the soldiers are unbeaten. For the last two seasons, Thunder have bowed out in the playoffs semifinals and assistant coach Sadat Gaya hopes their new signings will take the club a step further this season.

But, tackling Ulinzi is the main task at hand. He says losing two key players has had a huge effect.

“We lost two of our starters; second leading scorer Kevin Chogo and one of our top defensive player in Shem Otieno. Obviously from how we started the league, it says a lot about their importance to our team,” he told Sports News Arena.

In response to the loss, Thunder went out shopping and brought in standout players in key positions.

Among the arrivals are big men Nate Terry who has the ability to play inside and outside and James Eugene who can play great defense and take control of the rebounds.

Maru Ken who has played for Strathmore University has brought experience and toughness to the squad.

Jack Agunda joined from Kenyatta University and brings outside shooting as well as defense while former Kenya College of Accountancy-University (KCA-U ) point guard Brian Ondari is a good cover for Griffin Ligare.

Nyakinda at Nairobi City Thunder

Accomplished point guard Paul Nyakinda has also joined Thunder. “With the addition of these players and considering our recent form, I am confident we have the personnel to defeat Ulinzi,” Gaya added.

“We are better than last season because our overall team depth has improved. Poor depth and injuries have been the major challenge that we have had. Right now, we have enough bodies in all positions to weather any storm.”

On whether Thunder will be a top challenger for the title this season, Gaya said; “The team to watch as always are the defending champions (KPA) but I think we are also in the conversation.”

The game will be Ulinzi’s second toughest challenge this season having beaten Co-operative Bank. They brought in Collins Muliro and Hussein Mohamed who head coach William Balozi says have filled the void left by experienced Victor Odendo.

“Having played and won five games, Odendo’s absence is not being felt. The young boys are playing well.”

William Ochieng and Ancette Wafula add the needed experience. Against Thunder, Balozi is not expecting an easy game.

“They want the win and we want the win so it will be very tough for us.”

Co-op Bank will travel to the coastal city to play Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on Saturday.

It will be the first time Mombasa is hosting league games for this season. Just like the soldiers, KPA are unbeaten.

Equity Bank will play Trailblazers

In Nairobi, Equity Bank will play Trailblazers and the match can go either way.

Winless KCA-U will tackle United States International University- Africa (USIU-A). Strathmore Blades and Umoja will face off in what will be a fast-paced match.

Both teams have athletic players and their fighting spirit is always evident throughout the match. Umoja has so far taken Lions and Thunder to the buzzer in two of the tightest matches of the season.

Michael Munene will be a key player for Umoja. He is a good three-pointer shooter as witnessed against Lions and Thunder. Munene came off the bench to push the match against Lions to overtime with a three-point shot at the buzzer.

Gilbert Obiero is another player who can lift Umoja to a win. Blades equally has dangermen in Joseph Ongoro and Peter Shilton who average double digits on a good day.

Zetech University who let go a 17-point lead to lose against Co-op Bank last week will play Lions who are chasing their first win.

In the women’s Premier League, unbeaten KPA will host Co-op Bank who have Evelyne Itabu serving a two-game suspension.

USIU-A plays Kenyatta University Oryx with Strathmore University playing Eagle Wings.

Debutants Zetech University who lost their second game last week will play Storms. Linda Kimemia and Debra Obunga are the pillars for Zetech while Angela Luchivya leads Storms.

Fixtures

Saturday - Lakeside vs Terror (Kisumu, 10 a.m.), KPA ladies vs Co-op Bank (Mombasa, 2 p.m.), KPA men vs Co-op Bank (4 p.m.),Nakuru Club vs Upper Hill (Nakuru, 10 a.m.), ANU vs KCA-U (Upper Hill, 9 a.m.), NIBS vs EMYBA (10:30), ANU vs Eldonets (12 p.m.), JKUAT vs NEOSASA (Nyayo gymnasium, 8:30 a.m.), Storms vs Zetech University (10 a.m.), Strathmore University vs Kenyatta University Pirates (11:30), Lions vs Zetech University (1 p.m.), Blades vs Umoja (2:30), USIU-A vs KCA-U (4 p.m.);

Sunday - Gladiators vs ANU (Upper Hill, 8:30 a.m.), Kenyatta University Pirates vs Eldonets (10 a.m.), Upper Hill vs ANU (11:30 a.m.), JKUAT vs Little Prince (1 p.m.), Barclays Bank vs Nakuru Club (2:30), Blazers vs EMYBA (4 p.m.), 4-Christ vs Riara University (Nyayo gymnasium, 8:30 a.m.) Footprints vs Strathmore University (10 a.m.), Eagle Wings vs Strathmore University (11:30), USIU-A vs Kenyatta University Oryx (1 p.m.), Trailblazers vs Equity Bank (2:30), Ulinzi Warriors vs Thunder (4 p.m.).