Tusker, Gor set for KPL Super Cup clash in Nakuru
Champions Tusker FC and deposed titleholders Gor Mahia FC will renew their rivalry on Sunday when they face each other in the 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Super Cup at the Afraha Stadium, Nakuru County.
The traditional curtain raiser to the season was confirmed by the KPL on Friday in a brief statement dispatched to media houses.
Sunday will mark the first occasion that new Tusker coach, George ‘Best’ Nsibe will lead his team out for a competitive domestic match whilst his Brazilian opposite number at Gor, Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira will be hoping to pay back the champions for doing the domestic double over K’Ogalo last season.
Ze Maria acknowledged their opponents enjoyed a more productive pre-season having already been involved in competitive football when they represented Kenya alongside Ulinzi Stars in continental football.
The Brewers endured a painful CAF Champions League exit when they let slip a 2-1 aggregate lead over Mauritian side AS Port Louis 2000 with less than 10 minutes to go, as they crashed out of premier continental competition at the first hurdle.
“We want to win it because that is the best way to raise our confidence ahead of the league kick-off. Tusker could be in a better shape because they played two competitive matches but it should not be an excuse.
“We have to give 200 percent, because playing for Gor comes with a lot of responsibility,” the former Brazilian international stated.
Tusker dethroned Gor from the KPL throne after K’Ogalo kept the top division trophy for three seasons in a row having snatched it from the Brewers in the 2013 campaign and the titleholders emphasised their local supremacy by clinching the GOTv Shield Cup double.
In fact, no other team in the KPL has won the trophy in 2011 with most expecting the giants of domestic football to once again make the title race a two horse affair this season.
According to the KPL, the season curtain raiser will kick-off at 3pm local time (+3GMT) having declared on Thursday that the season proper will kick off Saturday week after a month-long delay.
Following a series of friendly matches, Ferreira who signed 12 players in the January transfer market says he has already established his ideal starting line-up.
“I had talked about nine players before but I now know who to start in the two other positions. I had particularly singled out the left full back position where we lost the two players of the 2016 squad (Eric Ouma and Abouba Sibomana).
“The other one is in the midfield. I will reveal who is who on Sunday, but generally we have a quality squad,” he said.
The former Inter Milan defender added he was fully aware the task at hand in fulfilling the ever demanding K’Ogalo faithful as he promised ‘a season of abundance’.
“Our fans want you to win everything, whether a friendly match or a competitive one. We promise no disappointment as we also ask them to be with us in the journey, always showing positivity towards the team.”
He also welcomed the move by KPL Limited to release the topflight fixtures noting the month long standoff between them and FKF was very ‘expensive’ for the players.
“It was a very long time to the players and coaches, training without knowing what next. We can now sit and plan the program for the whole season,” he offered.
A case challenging Football Kenya Federation (FKF)’s decision to relegate Muhoroni Youth FC and Sofapaka FC from the KPL for failing to meet the CAF Licensing threshold at the Sports Dispute Tribunal means the 2017 campaign will kick-off with 16 teams.
The top flight was expanded to 18 teams after a bruising tussle between the KPL and FKF.
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