Elite Cup Edition 2 is here

Thrilling action as second edition of Elite Pre-season Cup gets underway

There was all to watch for as the second edition of the Elite Pre-season Cup kicked off on Monday at the Utalii grounds.

Bidco United and Kariobangi Sharks got off to flying starts in the tournament after registering wins over Nairobi City Stars and Posta Rangers respectively.

The first edition of the tournament was held last year with Kenya Police gunning City Stars 2-0 in the final staged at the Nyayo National Stadium on October 1 to lift the title.

In the absence of the defending champion, seven teams will be looking to clinch the coveted gong and head into the 2023-2024 Football Kenya Federation Premier League season oozing confidence.

Bidco United vs Nairobi City Stars

Forward Chris Ochieng was the hero of the opening match of the day as his goal in the second half settled the contest.

Ochieng who joined the Thika based club last month from Bandari fired home the match-winning goal after he was set up by Jacob Onyango.

His goal was enough to send Bidco to the summit of pool B with three points, putting the Anthony Akhulia-coached side in pole position to top the standings and advance to the knockout stage.

The match provided an avenue for both coaches to test their new arsenals and see how best they will fit in their teams ahead of the new season that is set to kick off on August 26.

Reacting to the win, Akhulia who made wholesome changes before restart was left impressed with how his charges expressed themselves particularly in the second half.

“We stepped up in the second half and managed to get the three points. Our midfield formation wasn’t clicking as anticipated but at least we have time to sort it out. I am also happy with how the new players fared,” he said.

Bidco reached the semi-finals of the first edition where they lost 1-0 to Police who won the game courtesy of Reagan Otieno.

Veteran City Stars midfielder Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo who stood in for coach Nicholas Muyoti was quick to point out wastefulness in front of the goal for their false start.

Pinchez, who has been warming the City Stars technical bench since April was tasked to lead the team in the absence of Muyoti who is taking up the Confederation of African Football (CAF) B coaching course.

“We played well and created clear cut chances. Unfortunately, we didn’t utilize them. We managed to gauge some of the new players who featured in the match. Before the tournament ends, we will have decided on who will be retained,” said the former Kenyan international.

Kariobangi Sharks vs Posta Rangers

Sharks handed Rangers a rude welcome to the tournament after rallying from a goal down to edge the mailmen 2-1 in a pool B that was also played at Utalii.

Rangers were incorporated in the tournament, and subsequently, filled in the gap left by four-time Kenyan champions Ulinzi Stars who participated in the inaugural edition.

National Super League side Kajiado FC are also new in the tournament after replacing MCF who played in the first edition.

Rangers had taken the lead in the 15th minute through Erick Kipkirui who struck from the spot after Stanley Wilson brought Vincent Wasambo down.

The lead was however short-lived as Sharks restored parity in the 20th minute after Kennedy Owino inadvertently turned the ball into his own net while under pressure from the lurking Sharks.

Sharks sealed the three points in the 38th minute through skipper Kevin Luke Otiala whose half volley took a slight deflection, beating the fully-stretched Rangers custodian, Samuel Njau.

Despite the loss, Rangers boss John Kamau remained positive of bagging positive results in the subsequent group stage matches.

“The major purpose of the tournament is to see each and every player. The performance was okay but I believe we could have done better. There is time to work on the weak areas,” he said.

Sharks assistant coach Ezekiel Seda on the other hand observed that the team used the game to experiment on various formations as well as evaluating the new players and trying to fit them into the club’s philosophy.

“Winning is important for us but at the moment, we are focused on trying out different formations and styles of play. We want to test all our players in the tournament so as to have a clear picture of who plays how and where when league action starts,” said the former midfielder.

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