Last season, Gor Mahia lost both home and away ties to Tusker FC as the brewers went on to pluck the Kenyan Premier League title off their bitter rivals’ arms.
The two meet for the second time this year at the Afraha Stadium on Saturday evening with K’Ogalo eager to remedy the losses.
Already, they have met in the season opening KPL Super Cup which Gor won 1-0. Jacques Tuyisenge scored the penalty.
On Saturday, dynamics could be different when the two play for three points that could have a huge bearing on this season’s title run.
K’Ogalo top the standings with 12 points having won four out of their five opening matches.
The defending champions have had a poor start and are 15th with five points picked from a win and two draws in their last three matches.
Jose Marcelo Ferreira, the Gor coach may not read much about the slow start by Tusker.
“They are the defending champions and a very tough team. It is not easy to play against them. They also have good players. Our mentality remains the same; we want to win every match. The same way we approach the other teams is the same way we will approach Tusker,” the Brazilian coach said.
On Wednesday, he was feted as the March coach of the month.
Tusker will hope to keep it together against a potentially dangerous Gor Mahia side.
George Nsimbe, the side’s head coach is convinced his charges will come good against the former champions.
“It is a tough match, but I am happy that we have picked up some momentum up to now. We are playing better than we did and I am confident we are on the right path. Gor is a tough team but we know our abilities and that we can manage to beat them,” the coach noted.
He will be boosted by the availability of defender James Situma back from a one match suspension while first choice keeper David Okello is available again after recovering from a shoulder injury.
Defender Lloyd Wahome who pulled out with a back problem last weekend against Ulinzi has passed the fitness test and will be available for selection.
Kiongera back for AFC Leopards
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards will be at the Thika Stadium on Sunday taking on hosts Thika United. Stewart Hall’s men are fifth on the log with 10 points.
With Mungai Kiongera back from injury and available for the short trip to Thika, Hall is beaming with confidence that his side will be firing again after their slim 1-0 win over Muhoroni Youth in Mombasa last weekend.
The tactician had the privilege of watching Thika play earlier on before they faced Muhoroni and knows exactly what tactics to employ.
“They might have lost heavily in their last match but they are quite a decent side. We have prepared well for this tie because we have had a longer period of rest. Having Kiongera back is definitely a boost and I am hoping we can get maximum points,” the Briton said.
Over the last five meetings, Thika has beaten Ingwe thrice and lost twice. Last season, Thika won the first leg 2-1 but went on to lose 4-0 in the return leg.
In another interesting tie this weekend, Mathare United will play their first match without coach Francis Kimanzi when they travel to Nakuru to take on Ulinzi Stars.
The tactician was issued with a month-long touchline ban by the KPL Independent Disciplinary Committee after an incident last season where he caused stoppage of a match while protesting a referee decision.
Mathare who are 13th on the log have won only once this season, a 3-2 opening day result away to Thika United. They have picked two draws and same number of losses.
Ulinzi are unbeaten this season, having won twice and drawn thrice. They are sixth on the KPL table with nine points.
The side has drawn 1-1 over their last two matches, results which Benjamin Nyangweso believes should have been wins for his side.
“We have a deficiency in attack because if you look at the Tusker match, we created chances, lost and then ended up drawing. That was the same against Stima. I am hoping we can work to improve our finishing because defensively, we are doing okay,” the tactician opined.
Defender Mohammed Hassan who has just but resumed training after a shoulder injury might be thrown right back into action with Ben Sande who was deputizing for him having injured his thigh.
Youngster Alex Masinde who made his first appearance since being promoted from the youth team might not get as lucky to start if Hassan is passed fit. Evans Amwoka and Stephen Ochollah also remain sidelined with injury.
At the same time, Posta Rangers who are also unbeaten will host new boys Kariobangi Sharks in Nakuru.
Sharks have won back to back matches against their National Super League competitors from last season, Nzoia Sugar and Nakumatt.
Head coach William Muluya is hoping the side can maintain the tempo though he concedes it will be a tough task against a Posta side that has conceded only once this season.
Massoud Juma returned to action last weekend for Kariobangi Sharks after missing action for the first four games of the season and he is expected to continue his firing form against Posta.
The former Sony Sugar man has been picked out by Muluya as one of the players who will be key in his campaign.
Sammy Omollo, the Posta coach concedes it will not be an easy tie against Sharks. “They have picked some momentum and are a team of young players who are eager to impress. It will not be easy. We played them during our time at the NSL and we know what they are capable of doing,” Omollo noted.
KPL Weekend fixtures: (Kick off 3 p.m. unless stated)
Saturday: Chemelil Sugar v Bandari FC (Chemelil Complex), Muhoroni Youth v Sony Sugar (Muhoroni), Nakumatt v Western Stima (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Sofapaka v Kakamega Homeboyz (Camp Toyoyo), Nzoia Sugar v Zoo Kericho (Sudi), Posta Rangers v Kariobangi Sharks (2 p.m.), Gor Mahia v Tusker FC (Afraha Stadium, 4:15 p.m.).
Sunday: Thika United v AFC Leopards (Thika Sub-County Stadium), Ulinzi Stars v Mathare United (Afraha Stadium).