Tricky fixture for AFC Leopards in Nakuru to avoid relegation

By alex wafula
Oct 17, 2017
  • AFC Leopards have a tricky match against Ulinzi in Nakuru while Kariobangi Sharks have a date with Gor Mahia with the league on the home stretch. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

AFC Leopards travel to Nakuru on Tuesday afternoon on the backdrop of fresh relegation fears.

The 13-time Kenyan Premier League champions are only three points off the red zone after their weekend loss to Posta Rangers in Nakuru.

Robert Matano will be facing his former employers Ulinzi Stars for the first time since leaving at the end of last season.

“We have to fight to get off that zone because AFC Leopards is a big team and we cannot afford to finish in such kind of a position. It has been tough for us because of the injuries,” Matano said after losing to Posta Rangers on Saturday.

A loss against Ulinzi Stars coupled with a win for Mathare United when they play Thika United on Sunday would prove catastrophic as the slum boys will drag Ingwe down while moving up into safety.

It is a scenario that Matano is keen to avoid. Joshua Mawira and Marcus Abwao are still sidelined while Robinson Kamura is a doubt after picking a knock against Posta Rangers.

The two sides played to a barren draw in the first leg in Machakos. Meetings between the two sides have been tough with Ulinzi winning six while AFC Leopards has won seven of the last 17 with the remaining four ending in draws.

But, AFC Leopards have not beaten Ulinzi in the last seven league matches. The last time Ingwe beat the soldiers was in August 2013.

Ulinzi have not performed well

Ulinzi have not performed well too. Over the last five matches, they have only recorded a win once, drawing thrice and losing once.

Their title ambitions have fallen off the way and coach Benjamin Nyangweso is concerned.

“We had hopes of the title, but now it seems like it is getting a bit hard for us. We now shift focus to ensuring we finish the season strongly and hopefully we will get into the top three,” Nyangweso said.

He will miss the services of three dependable players. Central defender Geoffrey Kokoyo, left back Oliver Rutto and forward Samuel Onyango are suspended for one match because of accumulating five yellow cards.

It will be an opportunity for Nyangweso to experiment with a new formation as the trio has been a cog in their squad.

Kokoyo especially has featured in all matches throughout all competitions this season and this will be the first time he is not on the match day squad.

This will not be an ordinary fixture for AFC Leopards. It will be a warm up to their GOtv Shield final on Friday against Kariobangi Sharks at Kasarani.

Kariobangi Sharks will take their league charge to Kisumu where they play league leaders Gor Mahia. K’Ogalo come into the tie after losing to Mathare United over the weekend.

For Kariobangi Sharks, this is a match to tie up a possible top five finish while Gor Mahia look to wind up their league campaign early by winning twice from their remaining six matches.

Kerr urged his players to re-focus

Coach Dylan Kerr has urged his players to re-focus from the weekend loss to Mathare United to avoid any slip up.

“Kariobangi [Sharks] are a very good team and it is not going to be easy. No match has been easy for us. We need to give respect to every team. We have to go there and play with as much enthusiasm as we have had before,” Kerr told Sports News Arena.

The two sides met in the Kariobangi Sharks’ opening game of the season with Gor Mahia winning 3-1 although coach William Muluya said they are now a different team.

“We have grown from that time because it was our first match in the league and there was some stage fright but now we are more experienced. It will be a tough game because Gor Mahia is a top side,” Muluya said.

KPL midweek fixtures (All matches kick off 3 p.m.)

Tuesday: Ulinzi Stars v AFC Leopards (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Gor Mahia v Kariobangi Sharks (Moi Stadium, Kisumu)

Wednesday: Tusker FC v Nakumatt (Ruaraka)

Thursday: Muhoroni Youth v Zoo Kericho (Muhoroni Complex).