Will Ambani deliver after Wazito spending spree?
Wazito coach Fred Ambani is under pressure to provide a serious Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title challenge after a spending spree driven by a desire to stamp authority on the local scene.
Though Ambani claims that he is not under pressure to deliver the title after the massive spending that saw them complete the signing of their 13th player on Friday, the writing is already on the wall, given the impatient nature of club owner Ricardo Bardoer who always rants at players and members of his technical bench, on Twitter, whenever the team loses a league match.
Having finished in position 13 in the suspended league last season, 34 points behind the declared champions Gor Mahia and 27 adrift of second placed Kakamega Homeboyz, the response from the Wazito hierarchy has been emphatic.
Sofapaka set the record for the biggest total spent by a KPL club last season, but Wazito are on course to shatter that mark.
After relying on a cadre of promising youngsters to kick-start his reign, Ambani has prioritised proven talents in the transfer market.
On Friday he made former Gor Mahia and Tusker player Victor Ali Abondo his 13th signing after two weeks of spending spree.
Abondo has also had stints with Ajax Cape Town and Bloemfontein Celtic in the South African Premier League.
“This time we are going to compete for the league title. We are no longer mere participants in the competition,” Ambani told People Sport.
He added: “I’m not under any pressure, but we all have expectations. This time I have gone for the best talent and filled the gaps I spotted last season with worthy replacements.”
Ambani began his spree with the signing of highly rated forward Vincent Oburu from AFC Leopards, before sealing a move for former Mautuma High School star Fidel Origa who was marshalling the heart of Western Stima midfield last season.
He continued his raid of Western Stima by acquiring the services of defender Maurice Ojwang, midfielders Edwin Clifford also known as Euro, and goalkeeper Steve Odhiambo.
Other signings are Gor Mahia duo of goalkeeper Peter Odhiambo and winger Boniface Omondi, veteran winger Kevin Kimani from Mathare United, midfielder Jackson Juma from AFC Leopards, defender Kevin Okumu ‘Chumsy’ from Nairobi City Stars, midfielder Castro Ogendo from Betika Super League side Bidco and defender Mark Otieno from Super Eight Division League side Leeds United.
Ambani will hope the lavish investment reaps rewards for his club and enable them win silverware.
Multiple champions Gor Mahia will be the team to beat when the new campaign kicks off on a date yet to be decided and 2009 champions Sofapaka can never be discounted.
But Wazito are in the title conversation after bringing in so many quality additions. Now it is up to Ambani to ensure his team fulfil those burgeoning expectations.
Getting a disparate group of new recruits to gel successfully is no easy task. But scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem and Ambani will hope the new defensive recruits can solidify a defence that often conceded far too easily last term.
Wazito shipped 30 league goals last season, 13 more than Gor, from whom they have now acquired the services of their first choice custodian.
“Abondo was our last signing, we are now good to go. We will not be adding any more players, we now want to start planning for the next season,” Ambani said.