Sofapaka’s good run in the 2014 KPL season is not complete without mentioning Anthony Ekaliane Ndolo and Maurice Odipo; the twins of Sofapaka midfield. They form the twin piston engine at the centre of the club’s good run despite financial constraints. The exit of Humphery Mieno to AFC Leopards’ meant that the two players had more playing time together, and sooner they formed a partnership that won matches for Batoto ba Mungu.
Anthony Ekaliane Ndolo
Acquired from Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA- FC) this season, Ndolo has not disappointed Sofapaka for their trust in him. No one knew of the central midfielder who entered his space his new club so seamlessly you would think Sofapaka was formed with him in mind. He has scored nine goals this season, and offered many assists.
The twenty six year old was born in Nairobi to a military officer father, his mother died when he was young. He spent a few years at Makongeni Primary then transferred to live with his aunty in Bungoma where he attended Bungoma DEB Primary then Friends School Bugembe.
Ndolo hails from Machakos; however he owes is name Ekaliane to his mother’s Teso community, something that I realized he mentioned with a tinge of pride and nostalgia. It is AFC Leopards’ legend Noah Wanyama, the father to Sofapaka defender Heskey Wanyama and Southampton’s Victor Mugubi who spotted him. He introduced him to Mbale Heroes FC Academy in Eastern Uganda in 2005.
He left for the capital Kampala to join the junior side of SC Villa in 2006 then graduated to the senior team the following season until 2010. He then had a short stint with Tanzania side Yanga before flying out to Sweden in search of greener pastures but nothing concrete came out of it. He went back to Uganda and joined KCCA FC where Sofapaka plucked him from at the end of Ugandan season last year.
Going by his performance this season, Kenya has just unearthed a great talent. The diminutive midfielder has a powerful jump, eye for the ball and rotating eye for the defense splitting pass. He is good at intercepting passes, and his work rate has been phenomenal. He was called up to the national team for the friendly with Morocco but missed out on the final squad. A sign of good things to come.
Ndolo attributes the good run in Sofapaka to team work and the brotherhood in the squad. On average, Uganda has more players who are technically superior compared to Kenya, but he says KPL is well organized.
Ndolo is dating, but leaves the details for people to speculate. He believes Sofapaka will clinch KPL next season. What went wrong? “When we failed to beat Chemelil Sugar FC at home, that’s what cost us.” Is all he could say.
Maurice Who? Is what someone would ask of a player who spent three seasons at Tusker FC under Sammy Omollo and Robert Matano. He left mid last season to join Bandari where he stayed for six months before joining Sofapaka. This season Odipo has been behind the donkey work in front of Sofapaks’s defense where he missed only one match in the second leg, against SoNy Sugar in Awendo.
The Buruburu High School graduate has been outstanding that Sam Timbe made him central to his plans this season. The twenty six year old Nairobi born defensive midfielder was inspired by his elder brother who played unprofessional football for Maziwa FC in Kariobangi South. His brother introduced him to Leonard Odipo’s Daring Club Academy in Kariobangi South.
He had a brief stint at Ugandan side KCCA FC before joining Tusker in 2009 where he stayed until last season when he joined Bandari. He enjoyed good playing time under Sammy Omollo but this changed slightly under Robert Matano thus his dip in form. As a surplus to requirement he always played out of position many times to fill for an absent player, and this affected his performance.
When he joined Sofapaka, Sam Timbe insisted on playing him as a defensive midfielder. With the exit of Mieno, Anthony Ndolo moved into central midfield and he soon became a regular. He matured into an efficient and tactful player. Odipo became the spoiler responsible curtailing the opponents moves as Ndolo initiated attacks.
At the end of every match, his shirt would be the dirtiest in the team, proof of a player going all out to make life hard for the opponents. As the man tasked to do the dirty job, he has been good at it that he got his fifth yellow card on the last day of the season. He has an eye for the ball, and full match work rate that can impress any coach in the world.
He attributes his good performance to the team work in the team and the simplified role his coach Sam Timbe has consistently given him. Ironically, though defensive midfielders are devoid of flair, Odipo admires Brazillian ‘football wizard’ Ronaldinho for his fancy footworks. The father of one will be happy to land a lucrative deal in the near future; meanwhile he has to help Sofapaka clinch the title next season.