Thika eye Ingwe double, Tusker out to fire at Ulinzi
Despite AFC Leopards emerging as the biggest spenders in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) June transfer window, the second leg of the campaign started in stinging defeat as the Ivan Minnaert anticipated revolution stalled.
Bogey team Chemelil Sugar clawed Ingwe 1-0 and on Saturday, the wounded Leopards are in their second home in Mumias to host former coach James Nandwa’s Thika United who are looking for the double after their 2-1 victory in the first leg.
On May 21, Kepha Aswani, who once played for Thika, got the early goal but Ingwe could not prevent the hosts turning the game on its head courtesy of Samuel Mwanje and Eugene Mukangula.
Minnaert’s future at the Den is the subject of intense speculation, having no victory in five with the club’s management having his accepted his decision to axe 16 players and bring in 13 with an outlay of Ksh1.02m, the most spent by a top flight club in June.
“We do everything to see the team is prepared and for the rest on the pitch I cannot do anything more. When you are doing the correct thing you cannot be under pressure so when I do my best in preparing the team I cannot be under pressure.
“On how we are preparing against Thika, I’m only working hard,” Minnaert told Citizen Digital.
Thika are also coming to the game smarting from a 2-1 loss to champions Gor Mahia in their second leg opener last weekend and with Ingwe fans expressing their discontent against the Belgian, Nandwa is sensing the upset is on in Mumias.
“We have prepared well, I was upset with the Gor loss so I want to get something out of the AFC match. There is much talk about Minnaert’s pressure but both of us are not in good position so it will not be easy.
“Collins Okumu who was away for trials is back, we missed him against Gor. Musa Saad will also be available and it’s a big boost for us. Completing a double will be a good thing, every coach wants to win,” the former Tusker FC and Karuturi coach said.
“Our target is to finish at least in the top eight this season, and it’s time we begin advancing towards that position,” told the former AFC coach.
He expressed concerns over the way his opposite number has been treated by a section of club’s fans.
“The events taking place at Ingwe are unfortunate. Coaches prepare a team but all the blame is pointed at us if results don’t come, I think it is good if the stakeholders are patient with him as he puts his team together.”
Ingwe will miss the services of newly signed striker Ismail Diarra who has unfinished business with Rwanda giants Rayon Sport while Thika will be without their new acquisition Longinus Chibueze, the Nigerian still waiting for his International Transfer Certificate.
-Tusker eye Ulinzi-
Leaders and 10-times champions Tusker travel to Nakuru to face a Ulinzi Stars on Saturday in the tie of the round.
Anything other than a win for the Brewers will see the KPL summit change with Mathare United (30) and K’Ogalo (29) breathing down the necks of Paul Nkata’s outfit that leads on 32 points.
Tusker’s captain James Situma, who led his side to a 1-0 win over Posta Rangers last weekend, is optimistic their good run will continue.
“Of course being at the top of the league puts you under pressure because everyone is aiming to get where you are. The key thing is being consistent in results, taking every match at a time.
“Ulinzi is a very physical side, we must be ready for that. The new players in the team have settled and added the edge we needed. If we can keep winning until the end of the month then we can openly talk about the title,” the former Sofapaka and AFC Leopards player underscored.
The Brewers trounced Mount Kenya University 4-0 where Ghanaian import; Stephen Owusu and former Sofapaka ace Ekhaliana Ndolo scoring a brace each in the friendly clash played at Nairobi’s Ruaraka Grounds on Thursday.
Ulinzi, who sunk Tusker 2-0 in the first leg, will be seeking to turn around their fortunes after losing 1-0 to Mathare in their second leg starter.
Relegation threatened Sofapaka, with only seven points after 16 outings; lock horns with Chemelil in the wake of a 2-1 defeat to Western Stima.
Sofapaka’s coach David Ouma, who overhauled his team in the just concluded transfer window, sees far beyond escaping the axe.
“With my new team, having analyzed the table, our target is at least a top eight finish. Against Western Stima last weekend we were a different side from what played in the first leg although we lost. I’m working on finishing.
“We want to recover starting with Chemelil, we are already in the second half of the league and every match matters a lot. Baraza (John) has been doing a good job in my absentia and we have really prepared him for the times ahead when I will be out with the national team (Harambee Starlets),” Ouma explained.
Treble chasing K’Ogalo host eighth placed Kakamega Homeboyz at the Kisumu Moi Stadium on Sunday.
Harambee Stars’ keeper Boniface Oluoch is expected back after serving his one match suspension with coach Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira remaining spoilt for choice in his competitive squad.
Returning Meddie Kagere was on score sheet while Brazilian Thiago de Lima Silva who was not registered by the club grabbed a brace before Baron Oketch sealed a 4-0 rout over Ruiru based FKF National Division one side Butterfly FC in a build-up to the match staged at the Camp on Thursday.
In other round 17 fixtures, Posta will play City Stars in Ruaraka while Western Stima will host Mathare at the Moi Stadium Kisumu. Bandari will at home against Ushuru as Muhoroni face off with Sony Sugar in Muhoroni.
15:00 AFC Leopards vs Thika United Mumias Complex
15:00 Chemelil Sugar vs Sofapaka Chemelil Stadium
15:00 Western Stima vs Mathare United Moi Stadium
15:00 Bandari vs Ushuru Mbaraki Stadium
14:00 Posta Rangers vs City Stars Afraha Stadium
14:00 Gor Mahia vs KK Homeboyz Moi Stadium
15:00 Muhoroni Youth vs SonySugar Muhoroni
16:15 Ulinzi Stars vs Tusker Afraha Stadium
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