NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – Nzoia United coach Bernard Mwalala is not mincing his words ahead of his side’s meeting with reigning Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia in the GOtv Shield round of 32 on Sunday at the Mumias Complex.
In 21 National Super League matches this season, the Bungoma based side are unbeaten having dropped points in only six occasions, leading the second tier league with a healthy six point gap.
In contrast, they meet a Gor side flattering to deceive, winning only once in the last five outings. It is on this platform that Mwalala, a former Kenyan international hopes to pick up a fight and drop Gor off the chase for a slot in next year’s CAF Confederation Cup.
“I know they are wavering a bit at the moment and they are not in very good form. In football, when you have a chance of hitting a team, you do it. It is a once in a while opportunity and I will be lying if I saw we don’t want to exploit that opportunity,” the tactician who took the side all the way to the quarters last year told Capital Sport.
On the way to a last eight berth in 2015, Nzoia beat Posta Rangers, the same side that went on to earn promotion to the KPL as well as Tusker FC.
Mwalala however expects a tougher test this year and does not expect the script to run the same way it did last year.
“Tusker was a different team with a different playing style. But all I can say is that win gives us motivation that we can do it against the big boys. The beauty of cup games is that only the 90 minutes on the pitch tell the difference. It is not who you meet,” the tactician added.
Gor, 10-time champions of the domestic cup last won the title in 2012 and their campaign last year ended in the semi-finals, losing to second tier side Nakumatt FC on post-match penalties.
This year though with the league defence seemingly uncertain, they want to give a push and ensure they reserve a place in continental football next season.
“We know it is tough, Nzoia are a very good team if you look at their record in the NSL. But we are equally ready to face them. It has been a tough patch for us in the league but we can bounce back with this game,” Gor skipper Musa Mohammed told Capital Sport.
K’Ogalo have scored only two goals in five matches and they come up against the meanest defence in the second tier who have only conceded 10 goals in 21 matches.
Head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira said he has worked on his striking force and he hopes they carry their scoring form into the match.
In other tough match ups expected this weekend, Western Stima will host AFC Leopards at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu, Ingwe staggering into the match carrying unconvincing form.
Stima tactician Henry Omino has vowed to add on to the Ingwe misery, saying his side is always ready to down the Leopards any time.
“We know it is a tough match, but our history against AFC Leopards speaks for itself. They will definitely come hard at us because they want to prove they can beat us and I don’t expect an easy ride,” Omino offered.
At the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, Ulinzi Stars will host Chemelil Sugar with the military side who have never won the domestic cup angling for a slot in the last eight.
Elsewhere, defending champions Bandari will be at home to second tier side Bidco United. The port men haven’t had exactly a smooth ride as they had last season and they head into this match on the backdrop of three winless matches.
Bidco, placed 9th on the NSL log haven’t’ had a smooth run as well but basing on Bandari’s form at home in the competition, the holders are the loud favourites heading in.
GOtv Shield fixtures (Kick off 3pm unless stated)
Friday: Tusker FC v Zetech University (Nyayo Stadium).
Saturday: Ulinzi Stars v Chemelil Sugar (Afraha Stadium), Western Stima v AFC Leopards (Moi Stadium Kisumu, 2 pm).
Sunday: Modern Coast v Kariobangi Sharks (2pm), Bandari v Bidco United (Mbaraki Complex, 4:15pm), Nzoia United v Gor Mahia (Moi Stadium Kisumu, 2pm), Thika United v KCB (Thika Stadium).