Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars will go head-to-head in the final of the Kenyan Premier League Top 8 at the Moi international Sports Center, Kasarani with more than just the Sh 1 million prize money at stake.
Ugly scenes of violence that marred the semi final of the competition last season is still fresh in the minds of K’Ogalo fans who will be happy to grab the trophy by the scruff of its neck from the soldier’s grip.
The catalyst the precipitated the situation was Moses Odhiambo’s disallowed goal, a decision which didn’t go down well with Gor fans as Ulinzi led 1-0 on the night and on aggregate. The standoff eventually led to the match’s abandonment with Ulinzi being awarded the match.
The soldiers went on to beat Western Stima 2-1 in the final to win the inaugural edition of the tournament.
Though Ulinzi are the cup holders, Gor will go into the match as firm favourite, if their resounding 4-0 thrashing of Tusker in the semis is anything to go by.
Gor’s impeccable run in the league was only dampened by last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Sofapaka.
However, Gor head coach Zdravko Logarusic believes his charges have what it takes to wrest the trophy from Ulinzi.
“This is not going to be just an ordinary match. We expect Ulinzi to put up a fight, but we are determined to bring the trophy home”, Logarusic said.
Gor will be relaying on the potent strike force of Rama Salim and Ugandan import Dan Sserunkuma to disarm the soldiers.
Ulinzi, on its part has vowed to pull all stops in their bid to defend the trophy with head coach Sammy Simiyu saying they will take the fight to Gor.
“We expect this to be a very tough match, but we are prepared to do all it takes to defend the title. My players are all psyched up for the match”, he said.
He soldiers’ camp has been boosted by the return of four key players for the match. The four are defender James Mulinge, midfielder Chester Okoyo, and strikers Lawrence Owino and Kevin Simiyu.
“Their return is a big plus to us in the chase for the league, the Top Eight and the President’s Cup titles. It has made me have a wide variety to choose from,” Simiyu said.
Unfront, Ulinzi will be counting on Evans Amwoka and 2011 Golden Boot winner Stephen Waruru to lead the assault against Gor.
Tusker 1 Sony Sugar 0
Meanwhile, Tusker caretaker coach George Maina got off to a good start guiding the brewers to a 1-0 win over Sony Sugar in his first match since replacing Sammy Omollo midweek.
Tusker left it late after a barren first half at Hope Centre in Kawangware to strike in the 86th minute through a spot kick converted by former Gor Mahia and Thika United midfielder Peter Opiyo.
The result lifted the brewers to second position in the standings with 39 points, five adrift of leaders AFC Leopards.
Sofapaka 0 Nairobi City Stars 0
In the other match at the same venue, 2009 league champions Sofapaka lost valuable ground after they settled for a scoreless draw with Nairobi City Stars.
The first half was a balanced affair that, however, failed to yield any real chances. League’s top scorer John Baraza header sailed above the bar late in the first half while Humphrey Mieno’s effort in the 62nd minute from the edge of the box was saved by Ronny Kagunzi.
Francis Thairu had the best chance for the hosts, but he skied his 57th minute effort after getting a neat cross Dennis Okumu. Sofapaka dropped to third on the table with 38 points, while City Stars position remained unchanged at position 13 with 23 points.
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