Odhiambo promises good start as Gor, Ulinzi clash in FKF-PL


Patrick Odhiambo follows action against Tusker FC during their Kenyan Premier League match at Kenyatta ...
Then Sony Sugar FC coach Patrick Odhiambo (now Gor Mahia assistant coach) follows action against Tusker FC during their Kenyan Premier League match at Kenyatta stadium in Nairobi on April 18, 2019. The match ended in a barren draw. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

In Summary

  • Gor Mahia, who will be led from the dugout by assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo, are looking to make a statement in their opener.
  • Pamzo whose services to Gor have been sought for the purpose of the CAF duties only, will be with his Posta Rangers while K’Ogalo’s head coach Roberto Oliveira is out of the country.
  • Meanwhile, the coach has no worries about the demanding schedule of their youthful lead striker Benson Omalla, who is juggling between school work and football both for the club and national teams.

The FKF-PL enters the third round this weekend, it is a distinctive weekend for champions Gor Mahia who will be launching their title defense against Ulinzi Stars on Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Distinctive, not only for being their first match of the league, but for somehow cooling the simmering row between the club and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) on the StarTimes broadcast deal.

It will also be the first competitive match for Ulinzi since March this year, as the military men are also embroiled in the broadcast rights conundrum hence locking them out of the already played two rounds.

Away from the sideshows, Gor Mahia, who will be led from the dugout by assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo, are looking to make a statement in their opener with the tactician saying there are no two thoughts about retaining the title.

“We have always played to win the title, no doubt about it. Every member of the club knows this as we kick off our campaign,” the former Sony Sugar coach said, acknowledging some advantage over their opponents in terms of preparation.

“We started our intense training quite early with the Champions League assignment in mind. The two matches against APR of Rwanda in the past one week have also given us a good warm because that’s quite a higher level. We are not where we want to be but we have made some strides” he noted.

According to Odhiambo, the win over APR, whom they eliminated from the CAF CL on a 4-3 aggregate, means a lot to a team that made 14 changes in their squad in the preseason. The coach underlined it was their concern that with the long break from active football forced by COVID-19 and the squad shakeup, the start would be unpredictable.

“We are at around 70 percent in terms of gelling, which is quite commendable. We hope to get better as we progress, even against Ulinzi. The fact that we had Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo on the touchline in the CAF matches makes no difference when we face Ulinzi without him. Football language is one, we know very well what we are building and how,” Odhiambo charged.

This weekend, Pamzo whose services to Gor have been sought for the purpose of the CAF duties only, will be with his Posta Rangers side while K’Ogalo’s head coach Roberto Oliveira is out of the country.

However, Odhiambo admitted Ulinzi have always been a hard nut to crack for them, saying the longevity of the current squad at the club gives them the desired cohesiveness to make an impact in the league.

“It should be an exciting match. Our record against them clearly shows we have to give our best to beat them.”

 

Meanwhile, the coach has no worries about the demanding schedule of their youthful lead striker Benson Omalla, who is juggling between school work and football both for the club and national teams.

“We have given him a very elaborate training program to follow while at school. He leaves for school after weekend club assignments and joins the rest of the team on Saturdays. So far he is doing it very well.”

Omalla, who is a Form-Four student at Kisumu Day Secondary School, has in the last one month been in Harambee Stars, Rising Stars and Gor camps while still gearing up for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) set for March 2021.

Having clocked 90 minutes against APR on Saturday, Omalla, Western Stima’s top scorer last season, is expected to lead Gor’s attack  in what will be part of Jamuhuri Day Celebrations.

In the meantime, Nairobi City Stars stopped Bandari FC 2-0 in the Friday afternoon match of the league, sealing their second win in three matches.

Anthony Mukki scored one while Bernard Odhiambo scored in his own net, to deny Bandari a chance to move to the summit, having won at home against Sofapaka (1-0) before drawing Tusker last weekend (0-0) the Utalii Grounds –Nairobi.

City Stars, who lost to KCB 1-0 last week, opened their season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Nzoia Sugar.

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