Kenya: Kariobangi Sharks Dare to Dream Ahead of Everton Tie

Kariobangi Sharks players celebrate their goal against visiting English Premier League side Everton during a SporPesa-organised international friendly match at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani in Nairobi.

Main stay members of Kariobangi Sharks have promised to give English Premier League side Everton a worthy challenge in Sunday's high profile friendly match at the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani.

However, the players and coach have said that they will not be going for results in that match, but will instead focus on collecting as many lessons as possible from the visiting team.

"The opportunity to play for Everton is in itself a big deal. We are not going for results. That is not our primary aim. We appreciate that they are on a different level, and we appreciate the fact that they have come to play with us. But they should expect a challenge from us," said Sharks captain Eric Juma.

"Growing up in Kariobangi is not easy. There is a lot of peer pressure and so many pitfalls. Many youth are into drugs, and crime. My journey in football started when I was very young. I used to follow my brothers on their way to football matches because I was still too young to play with them."

Kariobangi Sharks was founded in the year 2000 by a group of ambitious young men who wanted to establish an amateur football team within Kariobangi area.

The aim of this team, at the time, was to have Kariobangi represented in off-season football tournaments usually held during school holidays in Nairobi. Current Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa was one of these men.

They rose up the ranks and gained premier league status in 2016 when they beat Nzoia Sugar 1-0 in that year's National Super League play-off.

"I started coaching when I was just 14 years. By then, I didn't know what I was doing. My friends and I would just round up a few good footballers and make them play games against other teams from the neighbourhood.

"I know for a fact that many Kariobangi Sharks players want to play against Everton. But because that's not immediately possible, I know that they are all looking forward to the game on Sunday, because there will be a lot of lessons to learn," said Sharks coach William Muluya.

To book the date with Everton, Kariobangi Sharks FC won the 2019 edition of the SportPesa Cup which took place in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in January.

Their 1-0 win over Bandari FC gave them regional supremacy and the opportunity to play the Blues.

The chartered flight carrying Everton was expected to touch down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 8am, and the team gets a chance to feel the Kasarani stadium pitch later this afternoon.

Already, this match has formed a major talking point within Kariobangi, Kenya's low-cost housing area from where Kariobangi Sharks draws most of its support.

"Growing up in Kariobangi was quite difficult. Because you could find that out of about 10 people you're the only one who's got at least some moral values. I started playing football when I was still in school because I admired seeing the older boys playing. With time, I started playing with them. I've been at Sharks for the last ten years," said Patillah Omotto, who was instrumental in Sharks' promotion to the top flight in 2016.

"Playing against Everton with Sharks is such a privilege. We have never played such a big game, but we just have to level up and give them some worthy competition," he added.

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