Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya has cautioned his players against succumbing to the excitement of playing Everton, telling them to focus on their remaining seven SportPesa Premier League matches.
Sharks are bound to host the English side on July 7 in an international friendly match at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani but Muluya is worried of the clubs’ poor performance lately and their remaining league matches rather than the long-awaited friendly.
The Kenyan side earned the green light to tackle the Toffees after winning the third edition of the SportPesa Cup held in January in Tanzania where they beat compatriots Bandari 1-0 in the final of what was their second appearance in the tournament.
While playing against the English Premier League side is deemed a rare exposure to players, Muluya remains unmoved as he focuses on arresting their nine-match winless-run and retaining the Shield Cup.
“Playing Everton is good for the club and Kenyan football but we have to focus on halting our current form in the league. It’s worrying and that’s what I want my players to concentrate on first,” said Muluya. “We have seven league matches remaining and we really want a respectable finish, which means we have to work harder than ever before. We also have Shield Cup assignments and it’s a challenge to the boys not to fall for the excitement of the clash, which is two months away.”
He added: “It’s a good exposure which every player wants but before we begin our preparations we have to ensure we achieve our domestic targets. Once we are done, then we will put our focus on Everton’s visit.”
Everton have in the past played Kenyan champions Gor Mahia twice as part of their partnership with the gaming firm. Everton became the first time a Premier League club to visit East Africa when they toured Tanzania in July 2017. In Dar es Salaam, they beat Gor Mahia 2-1 and were again victorious when they hosted they hosted the Kenyan champions at Goodison Park, Merseyside in November last year. It was the first occasion for an East African club side to play a Premier League club in the UK.
SportPesa Chief Executive Officer Ronald Karauri, said: “Kariobangi Sharks FC is a team that has defied many odds to first make it to Kenya’s top league, the SportPesa Premier League, earning their stripes by winning the Shield Cup in Kenya, and to our delight, the SportPesa Cup tournament in Tanzania which was held in January. These boys have all it takes to host Everton for this historic match. It will be a record making match as well as a much-needed catalyst to boost careers in local football as well as sports development in the country.”
Alan McTavish, Commercial Director at Everton Football Club, said: “We are extremely excited to be heading back to Africa to play against Kariobangi Sharks FC.”