Tusker and Gor jostle for top spot in KPL

By alex wafula
May 24, 2016
  • Tusker FC who drew 1-1 with Sony Sugar at the weekend host AFC Leopards at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.

  • Francis Kimanzi the Mathare United coach is satisfied with the team's result in the first leg.

Gor Mahia, the Kenya Premier League defending champions might finish the first leg of the 2016 season top of the log if they beat Sofapaka in Kisumu on Wednesday.

It depends on the result between Tusker and AFC Leopards at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. Only two points separate the two sides.

Gor started the season on a low until the arrival of Jose Marcelo Ferreira. The Brazilian coach nick-named Ze Maria has lost only once since he took over. His side has won five matches on the trot and conceded no goal.

The coach remains humble. “No, it is not me. I have a group of hard working players, they work hard in training and in the match and I only give them few keys to unlock their potential. I think we are playing very well now and we can be able to defend our title,” the tactician told Sports News Arena.

He has a tricky match against lowly Sofapaka who are in the drop zone having lost 11 of their last 13 matches. “We don’t take it as an easy match despite the fact the team is down on the table. In the league, I notice every team is tough so we will take that game very seriously and hope we can finish the first leg on a high,” Ze Maria said.

Gor have been firing on all cylinders and the form of Jacques Tuyisenge has lifted them. Against a seemingly inexperienced and shaky Sofapaka defense, Gor have chance of collecting maximum points.

Sofapaka haven’t had a lot of strong points this season, much of the burden being left on captain Wycliffe Opondo who has solely driven the team albeit in futility.

Nkata disappointed

In Machakos,Tusker face AFC CLeopards. Paul Nkata, the Tusker FC coach was disapppointed following a 1-1 draw with Sony Sugar last weekend. AFC Leopards also come into the match a wounded side, having lost their last match against Thika United, their fourth in five matches.

“Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. We just give 100% for 25 minutes then get lost. It is a bad situation for us,” Ivan Minnaert, the AFC Leopards coach said after his team lost to Thika last weekend.

Andrew Tololwa their best player has been injury prone and is a doubtful starter. He was stretchered off against Thika.

Nkata is keen to maintain the pole position. “We have worked a bit on scoring which was our weak area and it will be very important for us to finish the first leg at position one. (AFC) Leopards is always a tough opponent whether they are up or down so we don’t want to take that match lightly,” Nkata explained.

The side has not been as fluid as they were last season. Defensively, they haven’t looked as solid conceding 13 goals, an average of one per game. Clifton Miheso and Kepha Aswani on a good day can cause trouble.

Nkata’s men could dominate the midfield with the combined experience of Humphrey Mieno, Osborne Monday and Ekaliani Ndolo.

In the absence of Tololwa, AFC Leopards will depend on Bernard Ongoma and possibly Allan Katterega. 

Ulinzi host Homeboyz

Elsewhere, Robert Matano’s Ulinzi Stars who are third host Kakamega Homeboyz. Ulinzi has quietly edged their way to the top three.

Top striker John Mark Makwatta who has netted nine goals in 14 matches will be expected to lead the line again.

Meanwhile, fourth-placed Mathare United who are also on 26 points will be away to Posta Rangers in one of the weekend’s tough matches.

Francis Kimanzi says he is under no pressure ahead of the  match as he has already achieved his first leg targets. “We have picked what we wanted and now what we are going for is just a bonus. Not to say we will relax but we want to push and finish the first leg as strong as possible,” Kimanzi said.

Midweek fixtures

Wednesday: Tusker FC v AFC Leopards (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Gor Mahia v Sofapaka (Moi Stadium, Kisumu); Thursday: Ulinzi Stars v Kakamega Homeboyz (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Posta Rangers v Mathare United (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Bandari v Thika United (Mbaraki Complex, Mombasa), Muhoroni Youth v Chemelil Sugar (Muhoroni Complex), Sony Sugar FC v City Stars (Awendo Stadium), Western Stima v Ushuru FC (Moi Stadium, Kisumu).