Butali Sugar Warriors will unleash marquee signing Amos Barkibir when they launch their men’s hockey Premier League title defence against Sailors on Sunday at City Park Stadium.
Barkibir, who has been plucked from arch-rivals Kenya Police, is one of the five signings Butali have made in pursuit of their fourth Premier League title and ultimately the Africa Club Championships crown later this year.
The Warriors have also signed another Kenya Police striker Calvin “Kanu” Otieno besides Multimedia University forward Moses Ademba.
Also joining the 2014 and 2015 champions are midfielder Francis Kariuki from Strathmore Gladiators and defender Arif Shah, who has re-joined the Kisumu-based side from Nairobi Simba.
Team manager Kamal Sembi said that Dutch Maarten Fonteyn, who joined Butali Sugar mid-last season, will also be joining the club mid-season.
“We have prepared well for the last last three months and I am sure the coaches will have a selection nightmare. We have a strong squad of 30 players,” said Sembi. “Our performance will depend on the day but we can’t underestimate our rivals.”
Sembi said their target this year is to confirm their league victory in December was no fluke and ultimately win the continental crown. “We have recruited heavily this year primarily for the Africa Club Championships.”
Sailors will be hoping to bounce back after they were handed a rude welcome on their return to the top flight by United States International University (USIU), who thrashed them 3-0 last weekend.
Sailors have made one signing, having acquired midfielder Juma Juma from Thika Rovers for the season.
“Ideally, we are not at a point we wanted but I am still grateful for the team I have at the moment,” said Sailors coach Timothy Kamar, adding that they had a problem with pitch acquisition owing to lack of funds. “I am happy we have someone who has come on board to help us.”
With only 10 teams in the league, Kamar said that every game will count. “We shall play our hearts out and enjoy the Premier League.”
After being forced to a barren draw by newcomers Amira Sailors, defending champions Telkom Kenya will come out with their guns blazing against Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in their next match on Sunday.
Amira will be up against Kenyatta University/s Titans.