National Super League (NSL) side Palos FC have an uphill task as they prepare to face reigning Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions and GOtv Shield holders Tusker in the domestic cup's second round clash at Kinoru Stadium in Meru. For the Kisumu side, the stakes are high while Tusker are only gunning for a successful defence and Palos coach Hesbon Nyabinge is rolling his sleeves expecting a stern test.
In their last GOtv Shield outing the Palos thumped Griffin FC 5-1 at the Moi Stadium Kisumu and a win over the Brewers will definitely send a statement of their intentions. Though the underdogs in this game, Nyabinge is confident they will give Tusker a run for their money and he is banking on a good balance in his team.
"We are preparing well and the new signings have gelled well with the rest in the team. We brought on board eight new players and all these I believe will play a crucial role as we look to hit our targets for the season," he told Soka.
Nyabinge joined Palos in May, after leaving Western Stima, where he was the assistant coach and his brief includes getting the team promoted to the top flight. At the moment though, the domestic cup is all he is thinking of.
“Definitely, the GOtv Shield ranks as a top target for us and we will be approaching this game with that in mind. Tusker is a good team and with a lot of quality, like we have seen in the league so far. They are also the holders so this is a good game for us," he added.
From the win over Griffin in the first round, Palos has just one player injured - new signing Job Omuse - but Nyabinge is unfazed. He will be boosted with Victor Manuel's return to fitness ahead of the Sunday clash.
Perhaps his biggest concern will be the crowded fixture schedule as his charges will play three matches in the coming week.
“We have three matches in a span of seven days and there is also the issue of time spent in traveling for these games. It is tough but once again I’d say I trust in the depth in my team and we will manage," he concluded.
While Tusker has been the most consistent team in the tournament, they head to the game on an unconvincing run and reeling from a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bandari in their last Kenyan Premier League outing. Whatever the outcome, this promises to be an entertaining match at Kinoru.
Palos sit seventh on the NSL table with 23 points, having played 15 games, emerged victorious in five games, drawn eight, lost two games.