Mathare, Gor face off in Nyayo KPL battle royale
Second placed Mathare United and resurgent title holders Gor Mahia who trail them by three points will cap the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) round of 14 when they lock horns at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
It will be an acid test for Francis Kimanzi and Brazilian Marcello ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira in their first ever clash with the former out to lead his side to take charge of the standings after Tusker FC slipped up in a 1-1 draw against Sony Sugar on Saturday to leave them only two clear at 28.
Victory for the three-peat KPL champions who are three further adrift will move them to second and fuel belief that K’Ogalo who started their defense in catastrophic fashion can go on a wrap an unprecedented fourth successive title.
Having lost his first big game 1-0 to Tusker in controversial fashion, the former Brazil international is keen to take the scalp of the most qualified coach in the land in the UEFA-B licence holder Kimanzi.
K’Ogalo and Mathare’s goal difference is tied at eight placing the champions ahead but level on 26 should they prevail against a side with a deplorable head-to-head record against them.
Since 2009, the Slum Boys have not won against K’Ogalo in the league although but stalemates have dominated their fixtures but Kimanzi is confident he can conjure up the victory that would also signal his capability of leading the Slum Boys to only a second title after 2008 when he was also in charge.
“I have said time and again I take every match at a time. Gor is a strong side and everyone knows, the important thing is to approach the challenge the way it comes,” Kimanzi spoke in Mombasa after escaping another stern test with maximum points at Bandari FC last week.
He will rely on third choice goalkeeper, Geoffrey Atiel, in the absence of injured first choice, Robert Mboya and Peter Odhiambo.
The youthful custodian will have to stop fiery Rwanda international Jaques Tuyisenge and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo, who will be leading the 15-time champions attack.
Tuyisenge and Mathare’s Obadiah Ndege are out to add to their tally of five goals apiece with the former keeping his place in the Rwandase national team squad that is preparing for a 2017 AFCON qualifier.
He has been in rip-roaring form since shaking off the knee injury that hampered the start of his life at K’Ogalo having joined on a record Ksh4m fee.
Ndege on the other hand has not found the net since against Ushuru on April 3 when he converted from the spot and will be out to rediscover his mojo in front of goal.
Meanwhile, before the big 4:15 p.m local time (+3GMT) kick-off, Nairobi City Stars will face Posta Rangers at the same venue with the latter raring to put their stunning 1-0 loss to Chemelil Sugar behind them and resurrect their unlikely title push.
“I don’t like the kind of play Chemelil subjected us to. They scored a single then sat back all through. It’s bad we could not break them,” Posta boss, Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno lamented on the pack-the-bus tactics employed against his side.
City Stars are on the red zone, only above Sofapaka on ten points on the log after 13 outings, while Posta are fifth just two points below Gor and could leapfrog the champions with victory if Mathare also win the crunch encounter.
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