Nkata tasked with restoring Tusker's former glory

Saturday February 13 2016

Tusker FC new coach Paul Nkata, when he was unveiled to the media on January 13, 2016 at Tusker's, Ruaraka grounds. The Ugandan tactician has been tasked with leading the 10-time league champions for the next two years following the dismissal of former Harambee Stars and Sofapaka coach Francis Kimanzi last season. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Tusker FC coach Paul Nkata, when he was unveiled to the media on January 13, 2016 at Tusker's, Ruaraka grounds. The Ugandan tactician has been tasked with leading the 10-time league champions for the next two years following the dismissal of former Harambee Stars and Sofapaka coach Francis Kimanzi last season. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JAPHETH MUTINDA
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Tusker kick off their hunt for an 11th Kenyan Premier League title away to Thika United on Saturday.

The brewers finished a massive 34 points behind champions Gor Mahia in fifth place last term in one of their most turbulent seasons where they failed to win a single title.

Ugandan Paul Nkata has been tasked with leading the Ruaraka-based side for the next two years following the dismissal of former Harambee Stars and Sofapaka coach Francis Kimanzi last season and the soft-spoken former Muhoroni Youth coach has his work cut out.

SQUAD CHANGES

The club lost last season’s league top scorer Jesse Were to Zambian champions Zesco United while experienced defender Joackins Atudo (Posta Rangers), long-serving midfielder Fredrick Onyango (Sony Sugar) and Kevin Kimani (unattached) have all left the 10-time champions.

Nkata has brought in his son Fred Nkata, Martin Kizza, Collins Shivachi, Shafiq Batambuze, 2014 KPL MVP Anthony Ndolo, Jackson Macharia, Mike Khamati, Timonnah Wanyonyi and Louis Misiko to boost his squad.

Were’s absence, in particular, will be felt with the club failing to replace the marksman with a proven striker.

Clifford Alwanga, Mike Khamati and Ghanaian Stephen Owusu have a huge gap to fill.

“We have recruited well,” Nkata told Saturday Nation Sport on Tuesday. “Losing a top scorer is never easy.

“It is a big blow to the team but we will find ways of sharing the burden of goal scoring amongst the players we have in the team.”

Bookmakers are in agreement that Nkata’s arrival could change the tide for the brewers, who have not won the league since 2012.

CONSISTENCY

Tusker having flattered only to deceive when it mattered in the past three campaigns, Nkata must ensure they produce results consistently.

With experienced players such as Humphrey Mieno, James Situma, Osborne Monday, Anthony Ndolo and goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng, the Ugandan has a side that can achieve more.

The tactician and his assistant George Owoko were in charge as the team toured Uganda for the pre-season, where they managed only one win in four outings.

Earlier, they lost 1-0 to Niger in an international friendly and thrashed lower-tier side Dandora All Stars 6-1.

But the brewers, who play title favourites Ulinzi Stars on the second weekend of the season and champions Gor Mahia in April, face a Thika side they have failed to beat on the road for the past three seasons.

“We will not go to Thika with past records in mind,” Nkata said. “All we want to do is to start the season well.”