Focus on ‘Ingo derby’ as KPL resumes

By alex wafula
Apr 01, 2021
  • No easy match for Nzoia Sugar who face AFC Leopards in Machakos. (SAN. File Photo)

The highlight of a feisty weekend when Kenyan Premier League action resumes after the international break is the ‘Ingo derby’ between Nzoia Sugar and AFC Leopards at the Kenyatta Stadiumn on Saturday.

This is one of the matches to be played across the country.

AFC Leopards will be playing their second match and a third for Nzoia Sugar. Both teams have started the season positively.

Nzoia has picked beat defending champions Tusker FC 5-2 in the opening match and drew 0-0 with Mathare United. They are confident of keeping the big team charge against Ingwe.

“For us we take each game at a time. This is another tough duel with a lot of emotional attachment. The good thing with my boys is that we play without fear,” Bernard Mwalala, the Nzoia Sugar coach said ahead of the fixture.

Stewart Hall, the AFC Leopards coach is wary of the threat posed by the Premier League newcomers.

“It is very dangerous to play against these boys. I watched them play against Tusker and they run and run and run throughout the game. It is not a team we can take lightly,” Hall said.

In their 3-0 demolition of Nakumatt FC, Ingwe showed a compact team shape with their 3-5-2 formation clicking well. Hall is confident he will employ the same system throughout the season.

Secret weapons

But against Nzoia who play 4-4-2 flat out, Hall’s system might come under threat especially with the Bungoma-based club having wingers who break out at immense speed. Boniface Omondi and Luke Namanda have been Mwalala’s secret weapons from the side.

AFC Leopards could rely on the effective striking partnership between Mungai Kiongera and Ghanaian forward Gilbert Fiamenyo. The two were on target in the 3-0 win over Nakumatt.

In a late kick off, fresh from their campaign in the CAF Confederations Cup, Ulinzi Stars will play their first match get against newcomers Kariobangi Sharks.

The soldiers are banking on the confidence picked from their run in continental football, especially the last match where they beat Egyptian side Smouha 3-0 at the same venue, in Machakos.

Ulinzi finished third last season and have endured five seasons without a domestic title.

“We are optimistic we can challenge for something this season. It will be very important to start the season well. The motivation within the team is so high at the moment especially after the last game against Smouha. We want to start with a win,” skipper James Saruni noted.

Ulinzi will start top flight life without their top scorer John Mark Makwatta whose move to Slovakian side FC Nitra hit a snag and is now reportedly headed to Zambia.

But in his absence, the soldiers seemed to have landed a perfect replacement in Samwel Onyango. The former Sony Sugar man has hit three goals in four matches for Ulinzi and in his second ever start for the national team provided the assist for the winning goal in the 2-1 conquest over DR Congo last weekend.

Onyango has fitted well

Onyango’s performance earned him praise and he looks to inherit the throne left by Makwatta, last season’s KPL top scorer.

Kariobangi Sharks are winless. History won’t be in their favor. The last time they faced Ulinzi, they lost 4-1 in the GOtv Shield last season.

William Muluya, the Sharks coach hopes his charges can win. He is boosted with the availability of striker Cavin Odongo.

“It is a tough match but in the last weekend, we have played a friendly match and worked on our weaknesses. Hopefully we get it right,” Muluya, formerly with Mathare United as assistant coach stated..

Elsewhere on Sunday, 15-time champions Gor Mahia will be at their Moi Stadium base in Kisumu to face Western Stima.

Gor are enjoying a 100 percent start record having beaten Kariobangi Sharks 3-1 and Zoo Kericho 1-0 in their first two games of the season.

Skipper Musa Mohammed is unlikely to start after sustaining an injury during the friendly match between Harambee Stars and Uganda Cranes.

Jose Marcelo Ferreira is beaming with confidence.

Suspended goalkeeper

Western Stima will come into the after losing 1-4 to Sofapaka. They will miss the services of goalkeeper Samwel Odhiambo who is suspended after picking a red card during the Sofapaka loss.

“It was a bad performance from us and we really have to be up to speed against Gor. It is a tough game for us,” Henry Omino, the Western Stima tactician said.

Western Stima have been on a rebuilding process after most of their key players left at the end of the season. Among those who will return to possibly haunt them is midfielder Kenneth Muguna, last season’s Most Valuable Player and defender Joash Onyango.

Over the last 16 meetings between the two sides, Gor has been utterly dominant, winning 10 of the fixtures, drawing four while losing two.

The last time Stima won against Gor was in May 2013 when they picked up a 2-1 result at the Mumias Complex.

Elsewhere Tusker FC will be at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, hoping for their first win of the 2017 season when they take on Chemelil Sugar.

George ‘Best; Nsimbe and his charges are under pressure having lost back to back Premier League matches against Nzoia and Thika United.

Chemelil under the tutelage of new coach Abdallah Juma have picked up four points winning away against Sony Sugar and picking a point at home against Kakamega Homeboyz.

The last three meetings between these two sides have not been goal shy with 13 goals scored. Tusker won two of those matches while the final meeting from last season ended in a 2-2 draw.