Under-pressure ‘Zico’ eyes Ulinzi redemption

By alex wafula
Jul 01, 2017
  • Zedekiah Otieno appears to be relaxed ahead of the Ulinzi game, pointing out they have worked on their misgivings from the Sofapaka loss. (SNA. File Photo)

Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, the Gor Mahia head coach could be under early pressure when he leads his men against Ulinzi Stars on Sunday in Kisumu.

K’Ogalo are winless in three matches, their last being a 2-0 loss away to Sofapaka in Meru. Otieno who took over from Brazilian Jose Marcelo Ferreira needs a win to ease the pressure.

Gor are a point behind leaders Tusker FC while Ulinzi are third. The team is already without skipper Musa Mohammed who is serving a one match suspension after picking a red card in the Sofapaka.

Godfrey Walusimbi and keeper Boniface Oluoch are doubts with injury.

Otieno, a former Gor and Harambee Stars defender however appears to be relaxed ahead of the Ulinzi game, pointing out they have worked on their misgivings from the Sofapaka loss.

K’Ogalo last lost to the soldiers in 2013, a 2-0 result in Nairobi and over the last six matches, Gor has won thrice and drawn the rest.

Ulinzi, with title ambitions of their own come into the match determined to pick all three points to reduce the gap between them and leaders Tusker. Benjamin Nyangweso, the Ulinzi coach is determined to get one over Gor.

“It will be a very tough match because they are not an easy team especially now that they are not doing well. We know their fans will come out in big numbers to support them and we expect lots of pressure, But we have prepared well and I know we will get a win,” Nyangweso said.

Ulinzi will welcome back defender Mohammed ‘Rio’ Hassan who has missed the last three weeks of action with a shoulder injury.

New arsenal

At his disposal, Nyangweso will also have new arsenal with seven players joining in the team in the June transfer window.

Elsewhere, AFC Leopards will be in Nakuru taking on Kariobangi Sharks at the Afraha Stadium.

Ingwe will be under the tutelage of Tom Juma who has taken over on temporary basis with Romanian Dorian Marin having lasted only two weeks on the job.

Dan Mule, the AFC Leopards chair confirmed Marin, who was yet to sign a contract with the club has left.

Sources indicate that the Romanian had fallen out with some members of the technical bench as well as senior players after insisting he has to take charge of the team in Tanzania during the Super Cup.

Ingwe, winless over the last eight Premier League matches take on a Kariobangi Sharks side that has not lost over the same number of games.

Juma knows the expectation on his shoulders and has asked for patience to enable him put the team back on track.

“We need to go a step at a time because the task ahead is tough. I have looked at the team and I know we can do it. It’s just a matter of putting a few things in order,” the coach said.

AFC Leopards lost midfielder Bernard Mang’oli to Sofapaka while striker Mungai Kiongera did not renew his contract.

Ghanaian forward Gilbert Fiamenyo asked for time out to recover from a niggling foot injury.

But the club has been equally busy bringing new faces in. They re-signed Ugandan midfielder Musa Mudde from Bandari and snapped up Victor Majjid from Chemelil Sugar.

This adds on to their early June buys of Ugandan midfielder Keziron Kizito and Burundian forward Alex Kitenge. The latest addition is former Thika United striker Ray Omondi.

Juma believes the squad they have put together will be a strong one and is confident the club’s turn-around will begin with this weekend’s tie against Kariobangi Sharks.

Wounded leopard

William Muluya, the Kariobangi Sharks boss knows it will be a tough tie against a wounded leopard, but reckons his side has picked up considerable experience to effectively deal with high pressure games.

“We need to be very cautious in that game because playing against a side that is under pressure to win is very tough. I know my boys are capable of performing well and getting a win, but it will not be easy,” Muluya said.

Sixth-placed Kariobangi Sharks have picked 16 out of a possible 24 points over the last eight fixtures, and the aura of confidence is pushing them through.

In other matches this weekend, league leaders and defending champions Tusker FC will host Bandari at the Kinoru Stadium in Meru.

Paul Nkata who led the brewers to their season double last year will face his former employers for the first time.

Over the last eight games, Tusker has won seven and drawn one, ranking them as the form team at the moment.

Bandari, ranked eighth on the standings have not won over the last four games, losing back to back against Kariobangi Sharks and Zoo Kericho before picking two draws on the trot at home to Homeboyz and Western Stima.

“It is a great feeling to be coming up against Tusker and I am hoping that I will come out smiling at the end of the game. I hold on to good memories from my time there but now, my ambition is to make my team win. No sentiments,” Nkata noted.

KPL weekend fixtures (All games kick off 3 p.m.)

Saturday: AFC Leopards v Kariobangi Sharks (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Nakumatt v Sofapaka (Ruaraka Complex), Nzoia Sugar v Thika United (Sudi Stadium), Western Stima v Muhoroni (Moi Stadium, Kisumu).

Sunday: Gor Mahia v Ulinzi Stars (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Posta Rangers v Chemelil Sugar (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Sony Sugar v Kakamega Homeboyz (Awendo), Tusker FC v Bandari (Kinoru Stadium, meru), Zoo Kericho v Mathare United (Kericho Green Stadium).