Pressure continues to mount on George ‘Best’ Nsimbe, the new Tusker FC coach after losing the KPL Super Cup to Gor Mahia at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday evening.
Rwandese forward Jacques Tuyisenge scored the all important goal on the hour mark, converting from the penalty spot.
Tusker’s loss of the cup follows hot on the heels of their exit from the CAF Champions League after losing to Mauritian side AS Port Louis 2000.
With the new Kenyan Premier League season set to start next weekend, Nsimbe already has a full plate before him.
His predecessor Paul Nkata won the double for the Ruaraka-based side for the first time in their history and Nsimbe who comes in with a rich CV is expected to match, if not do better than the previous year.
Both sides fielded strong teams with Nsimbe initiating a number of changes in his squad. Regular utility player and captain James Situma was dropped to the bench just like he was during the second leg against Port Louis.
New signings tested
Veteran goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng started between the sticks in place of regular David Okello while new signing Samuel Olwande started on the left side of defense with another new face Moses Ndawula starting on the left side of attack.
Jose Marcelo Ferreira, the Gor coach also put in some new faces in his line-up.
Defender Joash Onyango signed from Western Stima partnered Harun Shakava at the heart of defense, Musa Mohammed being pushed to the left.
Rwandese Jean Baptise Mugiraneza partnered Ernest Wendo in midfield while reigning KPL player of the year Kenneth Muguna started behind the main striker, returnee Timothy Otieno.
Going into the match, Gor had not registered a win in a high profile pre-season friendly match and the players were up to ensure they calm the nerves of their faithful with an assured performance.
Gor started brighter and had a series of chances. Godfrey Walusimbi saw his shot cleared off the line by Eugene Asike in the clearest chance of the opening 45. They kept the tempo in the second period and Muguna who had been a thorn for the Tusker defense had a long range attempt in the 55th minute but the effort was wide.
On the hour mark, Gor got the opener, Tuyisenge slamming home a penalty spot after Timothy Otieno was felled inside the box.
The brewers’ attack mostly hinged on set pieces but none were threatening enough with Clifford Alwanga having a late effort saved by Boniface Oluoch.
The match will be a precursor to the start of the 2017 season.
18-teams listed on delayed KPL fixtures
KPL released the fixtures on Friday after a delay of close to three weeks.
But still, the league managers will be required to appear before the Sports Disputes Tribunal to explain why the fixtures were delayed.
The directive was given by John Ohaga, the tribunal chair last Thursday. KPL has included Nakumatt FC and Zoo Kericho and left out two slots which more or less means they have finally accepted the top flight will have 18 teams.
The two slots will be filled by either Sofapaka and Muhoroni Youth or KCB and Vihiga United depending on the tribunal’s ruling over the demotion of Sofapaka and Muhoroni on club licensing grounds.
The opening weekend will see seven matches played.
Ulinzi Stars will be playing in the CAF Confederations Cup on Friday hence their first game of the domestic season will be away to Kariobangi Sharks on April 1.
Defending champions Tusker will be at home to newly promoted Nzoia United.
Former champions Gor will also be up against a newly promoted side in Kariobangi Sharks. Nakumatt begin their maiden Premier League campaign in Mombasa against Bandari FC while Zoo Kericho will be at home to Posta Rangers.