NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Four-time Kenyan champions Ulinzi Stars FC departed
for Egypt on Tuesday evening for their opening leg of the CAF
Confederations Cup first round clash against Smouha on Friday
without their top scorer, John Mark Makwatta.
Makwatta, who won the Golden Boot in last season’s domestic top
flight league, resigned from the military side to pursue his dream
of playing European football in Slovakia.
Makwatta was unavailable for the Smouha game since his passport was
being processed in the Slovak Embassy in Nairobi but Ulinzi head
coach, Benjamin Nyangweso, is confident his squad can cope without
the forward who has top scored for them in the past two seasons.
Nyangweso, who led Ulinzi to the 2010 Kenyan Premier League title,
named an 18-man squad that left for Alexandria, Egypt on Tuesday
keeping faith in the squad that did duty in the preliminary round
conquest over Libyan side Al Hilal Benghazi.
The Kenyans edged out the Libyans 5-4 on post-match penalties after
their two legged tie ended 1-1 on aggregate.
Ulinzi went down 1-0 in Cairo, Egypt in a match played at a neutral
venue owing to the conflict in Libya before they beat Al Hilal by a
similar score line in Nairobi a week later with Makwatta providing
the assist for the lone goal.
“The resignation is pending approval, but basically, we will not be
with Makwatta moving forward. He informed us of the opportunity that
had come up for him and as a team, we cannot block his progress.
“We are happy for his achievement and we pray for him to succeed,”
Ulinzi chairman Lt. Col. Erick Oloo said in a statement.
“Life is all about progress and this for him is big progress. We
thank Makwatta for his services. He has been a diligent servant of
the team and has played a mammoth role in helping us to get where we
are now. He has our blessings,” the official added.
Ulinzi are the only Kenyan side remaining in continental competition
after league winners Tusker FC were eliminated from the preliminary
round of the CAF Champions League by Mauritian giants AS Port Louis
3-2 on aggregate.
They earned their ticket to the Confed Cup after being the beaten
finalist in the domestic GOtv Shield Cup that Tusker won on their
way to sealing the Kenyan double.