‘Odijo’ talks up his vision for Ushuru as club axe 16
Published on: August 28, 2020 06:15 (EAT)
Ushuru FC coach James ‘Odijo’ Omondi has revealed that they have let go of 16 players out of 30 from their previous season squad and is looking for at least 10 players to strengthen his squad as his rebuilding exercise gathers pace. Performance , contract expiring and the importance of wanting to inject new blood are some of the reasons that have been given for the exodus. “One might ask himself why 14 players out of 30. Number one reason is player performance, maybe a player didn’t perform as expected, and some have had their contracts expiring and the technical bench vision for a new way of doing things. Being a new coach in this team I have my own way of doing and looking into things, so definitely I need to inject some new blood because some players have overstayed at Ushuru FC,” said the tactician. Ushuru are planning to sign a few players to increase competitiveness in the squad which they believe will impact on the results positively. Coach Omondi has also utilised the Covid-19 break to scout for players that can beef up his squad especially the defence ahead of the new season, emphasizing that he is looking for talent, character and attitude. “The departments vary in what we are looking for but the defence is number one and they have to be impact players but I cannot reveal any names for now until the government opens up sports in the country,” he explained calmly. I have a strong technical bench and I’m ready for the task ahead,” added the former KCB and Muhoroni Youth coach as he figures out a return to KPL plan. Meanwhile Odijo has praised his bosses, KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu and C.E.O Steven Mathege for being ‘true lovers’ of sports, giving him hope that through their support the 2020/21 season will be Ushuru’s breakthrough campaign. In the 2019/20 season that was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ushuru ranked sixth, 10 points behind third-placed Vihiga United, when the league was suspended in March. Nairobi City Stars, who were relegated with the taxmen in 2016, were top and have finally climbed the ladder to KPL. But it was last term that the club, under ‘Odijio’, begun to rebuild following the sacking of long-serving coach Ken Kenyatta. Odijo took his new job with gusto, anchoring his team around youngsters Brian Yakhama and Alex Sunga who scored between them 19 out of the 37 goals scored by Ushuru in 26 matches. Brian, 23, son to former Kenyan international Nick Yakhama registered 14 goals emerging their top scorer. The preceding season he scored 18 goals after joining from Kakamega Homeboyz in a swap deal that involved Cameroonian striker Maxwell Ravell. Sunga, the St Anthony’s Boys High School alumnus who had 10 assist last season joined Ushuru in June 2017 as a teenager from Isibania. At the same time, ‘Odijo’, a firm disciplinarian, is very respectful of what his predecessor Kenneth Kenyatta did at the club, saying he is using that foundation to get back to the top-tier league in which they featured between 2013 and 2016. Their drop to the second-tier league came on the last day of the 2016 season after going down 3-1 to Posta Rangers at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. Sofapaka won 5-1 against Thika United in Machakos to escape relegation on goal difference having tied on 26 points with Ushuru but the tax men had a -18 goal difference compared to Sofapaka’s -6. Nairobi City Stars’ fate had already been sealed earlier on after finishing bottom with 19 points. Since then, the NSL has been their home for the last four seasons and they have played two play-offs, against Thika United and Nakumatt, losing in both occasions. In fact since they were relegated, they have only failed to qualify for the play-offs once, during the transitional 2018/19 season that saw them finish fourth.