Ulinzi hope to rebound against champions

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NAIROBI, Kenya, August 20- Ulinzi Stars’ eagerly anticipated clash against reigning champions Sofapaka will headline an action packed weekend in the Kenya Premier League.Chemilil Sugar face off with basement side Red Berets from 1pm in the first match of a double-header at Karuturi Grounds on Saturday followed by Karuturi Sports against Nairobi City Stars at the same venue from 3pm.

All eyes, however, will be trained on the Nyayo National stadium on Sunday where another double-header will see Ulinzi up against Sofapaka from 2pm, before AFC Leopards battle it out against Sony Sugar two hours later.

Sofapaka versus Ulinzi will be a fiercely contested match given the incidents in the first leg where Ulinzi scored a last-gasp penalty to earn a share of the spoils.

Sofapaka assistant coach Bobby Ogolla was suspended for three months for storming the pitch at the end of the match while Edgar Ochieng and Humphrey Mieno were handed three-match bans for post-match incidents.

The match could also have a huge bearing on the destination of the title because a win for Ulinzi will give them breathing space at the top while Sofapaka could go top for the first time in months should they win.

Ulinzi suffered only their second loss of the season against Gor last Wednesday and will hope for quick recovery. But they will be up against an in-form Sofapaka side that has won four of their five games scoring 12 goals along the way.

The match will be followed a clash pitting two teams next to each other on the standings as Leopards face Sony with Ingwe looking for just their second win of the second leg.

Leopards, though, will have to make do without captain and top scorer Dimonde Selenga who was sent off last weekend. Goalkeeper Lawrence Webo is still out so Boniface Tiema will continue in goal after an impressive showing in Thika.

They face a Sony Sugar side on a high after beating Chemilil 1-0 in a battle of the Sugarmen last weekend.

Saturday’s early game between Chemilil and Red Berets will be a relegation dogfight with both teams perched at the foot of the table.

Having survived the axe on the final day of last season, Berets will have to stage another Houdini act this season as they are rooted to the bottom of the log.

Their major problem is lack of goals — they have scored the least number of goals in the league.

They face a Chemilil side that has been on a slide for pretty much the entire season.

The departure of coach Zedekiah Otieno at the start had an adverse effect with Mike Mururi struggling with coaching duties.

The loss of key players like John Wawu, Sky Kizito and Wycliffe Opondo during the transfer window further weakened the side going into the second season.

Karuturi will be looking to stop an eight-match winless streak when they host Nairobi City Stars in Saturday’s second match.

The flowermen have lost five and drawn three matches including last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Tusker.

Goals have dried up and they have scored one goal in the last five matches and Coach Sammy Okoth needs to get his top scorer Allan Otindo; who has not scored in months, firing again.

He must also decide who to play in goal after his decision to drop Noah Ayuko last weekend backfired with his replacement Mike Wanyika was culpable for the goal they conceded.

But they can draw comfort from playing at home where they have not lost since the opening day of the season when they lost to Sofapaka.

 

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