Regular campaigners AFC Leopards face first timers Kariobangi Sharks in the final of the 2017 GOtv Shield on Friday from 3pm at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani in Nairobi.
Sony Sugar, another SPL side, will face Football Kenya Federation Super League side Vihiga United in the third place play offs from 12 noon that will curtain raise the final duel.
Winners of this annual tournament will earn the right to represent Kenya in next year’s Confederation Cup while also collecting KSh2 million in prize money.
What a contrast in terms of pedigree these two teams present. Whereas AFC Leopards’ history is steeped in glory and tradition, having won 13 Kenyan championships and nine GOtv Shield crowns, relatively unknown Kariobiangi Sharks only just made their debut in the Premier League and are appearing in their first major final in their history.
However, ambitious and brave Sharks have their arsenal intact, with on-form international striker Masoud Juma back at full health and ready to bring his 11 goals scored thus far in the league form to the GOtv Shield.
Ingwe on the other hand will be looking to get back to continental action since 2014 when they last tasted African football.
Leopards coach Robert Matano will, however, miss the services of international defender Robinson Kamura who has been ruled out for four weeks with a knee injury. Joshua Mawira returns from a lengthy layoff.
“We have never approached any match with the intention of losing. Nobody does that. We are going to try and win the match in 90 minutes. If we play well we shall do that, so that is our focus,” Matano, who took his side to residential training this week for this assignment, said.
Alexis Kitenge is the more recognizable front runner in a Leopards side that is clearly lacking big name players.
Ingwe though have been rampant in this tournament scoring some 27 goals thus far . To get to the final, they dispatched five lower tier sides, while Sharks saw off three lower tier teams and two SPL teams.
Leopards crushed Dero FC (15-1), Nairobi Stima (2-0), Bidco United (2-1) and Wazito (7-1) to enter the semi-finals where they edged out county government-sponsored Vihiga United 1-0.
Sharks saw off Bungoma Superstars, Kenpoly, Sofapaka, Eldoret Youth and Sony Sugar.
The two teams have met twice already in the league this season, with Sharks winning their first leg meeting 2-0 and the return encounter ending in a barren draw early in October. This promises to be another closely fought affair.
Tickets for the match will retail at KSh300 VIP and KSh200 terraces.
GOtv Shield fixtures on Friday at MISC:
Third place play-off – Sony Sugar v Vihiga United (12 noon)
Final – AFC Leopards v Kariobangi Sharks (3pm)