Gor’s Kerr on the ‘mountain top’, smells KPL glory
The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title race remained a two-horse affair with the runaway leaders Gor Mahia, and, Sofapaka, ruthlessly crushing their round 23 opponents 4-0 and 4-1 respectively.
It was Nzoia Sugar FC and Chemelil Sugar FC on the receiving ends of the two matches respectively, with Gor’s coach Dylan Kerr saying his eyes are filmy fixed on the title.
The Briton, who is yet to taste a league defeat since taking over from Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira, acknowledges their close challengers cannot be ignored at this stage but his target more realistic.
“We played well, you could see that display of a team hungry to win a title. We have been saying we want the title we cannot say we are already there until it is done.
“I’m however more optimistic, the plan is working, the dream is more real so far,” charged Kerr.
At 47 points with a game in hand, Gor are six points above Sofapaka, and Kerr is confident his charges are getting his philosophy right, singling out goalkeeper Fredrick Odhiambo.
“Competition in a team is very important. A coach is always happy when everyone is playing as a first team member. ”Odhiambo was amazing on goal because Nzoia had their good chances that he denied. As far as I’m concerned they (players) have known my mind, and moving to the right direction,” added the tactician.
Odhiambo, who has been an understudy of Boniface Oluoch had spectacular saves that kept K’Oglo in the match, including saving Stephen Wakanya’s spot kick.
In the absence of Ernest Wendo, Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza shone in the midfield, as well as Innocent Wafula who was doing Godfrey Walusimbi’s regular duty on the right-back channel.
At his unveiling, Sofapaka head coach Sam Ssimbwa said he was coming to revive a side that was being choked by shilling factor. Sofapaka were almost relegated to the National Super League (NSL) for lack of sponsorship in CAF /FIFA Club Licensing criteria.
The side, that barely survived relegation in the last day of the 2016 season, is lurking for Gor’s slip and would be breathing at the 15-time champions heels.
“We are playing to win. We want to keep on winning, to the end of the league. How they play (Gor) is not in our calculation, but will count at the end of the season.
“You never know, anything can happen between now and then, and what some people are calling Sofapaka magic could prove real. This is football, football is about such experiences,” Ssimbwa said.
Strikers Ezekiel Okare and Umaru Kasumba have been prolific in Sofapaka’s striking force, scoring eight each with the latter, who finished second in the Ugandan Premier League (UPL) scoring charts last season reigniting the clubs’ goal poaching instinct that had faded since the retiring of current deputy coach Jon Baraza.
-Ndung’u must behave-
Although AFC Leopards are still outside the top 10 bracket, head coach Robert Matano is happy with the progress of the reforms he has been spearheading at the den.
After demolishing Zoo Kericho 3-1 at the Kericho Green Stadium, Matano declared there was no looking back in his quest to redeem the club’s glory whose last league title came in 1997.
“I’m impressed with the team, we have been working hard to instill the mentality of a big team in the players, and it is evidently paying dividends.
“I’m however disappointed with Samuel Ndung’u. He has been playing very well recently but today he was very selfish. Team work is not an option at AFC, Ndun’gu must behave,” fumed Matano.
At 13 with 27 points, Leopards have an uphill task to leap into the top 8 which is the minimum target for Matano this season.
Zoo’s Sammy Okoth admitted Leopards deserved the win, promising to bounce back when KPL action resumes in the midweek.
“To be honest we were outclassed. That first minute goal disoriented us and we failed to compose ourselves before they killed the game.
“We should have done better especially in the second half but are already looking ahead. We must get something in our Wednesday match against Tusker,” he averred.
Tusker could be an easier target for Zoo, coming from a 2-0 drubbing by Sony Sugar on Sunday. The holders are drifted to ninth on the log after the defeat, with 30 points after 22 outings.
-Golden Boot race-
The weekend action saw 24 goals scored across the nine matches, FC Nakumatt’s Kepha Aswani netting a brace to take his tally season to 10, just one behind top scorer Stephen Waruru of Ulinzi Stars.
Aswani’s double was enough to silence Posta Rangers 2-0. The Golden Boot race grew tighter with Mathare United’s Chrispin Odour scoring his ninth, in the Slum boys’ 2-1 over Western Stima.
Sofapaka’s Umaru and Okare, who both scored in their 4-1 triumph over Chemelil, are firmly in the race with eight goals each.
KPL FULL STANDINGS
|7||Nzoia Sugar FC||24||8||7||9||26||27||-1||31|
|18||Muhoroni Youth FC||22||4||7||11||15||26||-11||19|
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