Netting 15 goals a season in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is no mean feat and the news that striker John Makwatta was no longer going to be part of the Ulinzi Stars team for the 2016 season might have left the club’s politburo scratching their heads.
15 goals would literally mean that in every two games Ulinzi Stars played, they were sure that Makwatta was always going to notch a goal; a feat that was a major reason why they finished third behind Tusker and Gor Mahia in one of the tightly contested league title in 2016. The departure of Makwatta and that of head coach Robert Matano might have left the club thinking coming into the new season but little did they know that their redeemer was amongst them; step up Stephen Waruru.
Ulinzi Stars is known to entrust their own when duty calls. Whether in football or in military duty, they seem to be doing things differently. Waruru has been one of the causalities of the military trainings that the players, are constantly sent to. A times they dissary the team's plans and in other times it comes as a blessing as some unknown gem might just seize the chance of the departing fellows.
For those who have watched Waruru before, no one doubts his talents; always trying to cut in from the flanks to hurt his opponents (Arjen Robben style) and his availability in the 2017 season for the soldiers after being out for military duties might be just what the soldiers needed after the departure of Makwatta who is now in the books of Buildcon FC in Zambia.
For a player who has won the golden boot, precisely in 2011 after notching 12 goals (11 from open play and one from the penalty spot), his experience will come in handy for the soldiers who are going for their first KPL title since 2010.
In other circumstances, Waruru’s four goals this season might have been a headline story, but such is the silent start for a striker who is known for his lethal left foot; a perfect silent return if you may so call it. His goals are merely anecdotal on another glorious start for the soldiers this season. It’s a footnote for another reason, of course that Waruru might be just the man to give them an edge over their opponents.
Despite drawing a blank on their last tie against Homeboyz, a four goal return in seven games points out to a prowess that very few strikers in the league possess. He failed to net in the team’s first game of the season against Kariobangi Sharks but ensured he kept pace with the leading strikers by finding the back of the net in his next three games; his last being a double in the club’s 5-1 win over Mathare United
Waruru has already made a considerable mark in this Ulinzi team this season that a few have already forgotten the influence of Samuel Onyango, who more than a fortnight ago, was the darling for his club and country.
Nyangweso however has refused to get carried away with Waruru’s immediate impact, talking about the “long process” of getting him back to his best but even him knows what a jewel he has in the former Thika United attacker.