On Sunday 25th, Ligi Ndogo youngsters Stephen Gichimu, Saroni Lemaiyan and Joe Gitau will take a great step forward: Graduation to the senior team as the best performing U23 players,class of 2016.
Stephen epitomizes the Ligi story. He started his journey at twelve in 2006 as part of the group that was nurtured by current Planet coach, Iddi Badi in the Mids. Later as an accomplished midfielder, he toured the UK in 2011 with the Planet team.
He can now realize his cherished dream.
This weekend, he will be part of a script written earlier by Remy Sheikh, Theo Kibett, and Shawn Mwondi and, like them, tell a tale of resilience and determination that has now pushed him to the utmost price at Ligi Ndogo: Playing for the senior team.
“It is an accomplishment.” Says Stephen. “Of course there is still a long way for me to go in my dream as a player. The journey, the change of teammates and now playing with the people I used to look up to and meeting my teammates who were promoted before me like Julius Masaba and Chris Lubulu is a wonderful opportunity. The coach has tutored me tremendously and I have met a lot of competition from very good ball players. Our game approach is possession based and it is impossible to play the ball if one is not composed. The coach and his assistant have aided my calmness!”
Alongside Stepen as mentioned earlier,will be Joe Gitau, Julius Masaba, who is coming back to the team, and Saruni Lemaiyan.
Other members of the Planets promoted last year are Hussein Hassan, Lawrence Oduor, Jude Loveday, Solomon Mbiti and Baron Edzaemeh.
The Planets invite Savannah Cement for the start of the National Division One Zone A league. The match kicks off at 11 am and will be played at the Ligi Ndogo grounds.
PLANETS v SAVANNAH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Planets have never met Savannah but the team is familiar in Kenya football. Last year, six players from their junior and senior ranks were chosen to represent the national team. They include; Ibrahim Onangwe, Zidane Ochieng’, Kenneth Mukuria and Telvin Njeri. Sebastian Njoroge and James Kinyanjui were selected to feature for the national team for the U20 team.
Former Black Stars Coach Eric Ouma takes over from George Maina, The vastly experienced tactician is expected to inspire the team into the form that he used to propel his former team to promotion. He was also, previously,in charge of Ujuzi soccer club,a Nairobi Academy.
“There is a lot to learn about our opponenets and the new league in general. “He says. “Realistically, I have not watched them play. Even if I watched them play last year, teams change personnel, coaches, coaching style and game approach.”
The Planets bank on the experience of former AFC defender Eric Masika and upfront, another former Leopard, Simon Sikuku.
“We didn’t gain promotion last year, instead, the opposite. We lost (again) a number of determining matches due to inexperience and injuries as almost the whole squad went down. This was mostly due to lack of proper pre-season preparation. We have taken care of that. We are in high spirits for the start of the season.” Former captain and now assistant coach,Samuel Machio told ligindogo.com.
Kevin Odhiambo was the team’s top scorer last year with five goals and also had an impressive pre-season this year. He led the team with seven goals alongside newcomer, Francis Wambura.He is expected to lead the Planets upfront,again.Full back Brillian Omollo returns to the starting line-up after a short stint in Mauritius.
The Planets will employ a variety of formations but start with the 4:4:2
FUN FACTS: The Planets have never lost a season opening match since its inception in 2005.