Battle at the top


NAIROBI, Kenya, September 10- Three of the top four Kenyan Premier League teams will battle it out against three bottom-placed sides in a weekend that could prove decisive on both the title race and relegation this weekend.
On Saturday, leaders Ulinzi will take on second from bottom Mahakama at Nyayo National Stadium from 5pm followed by fourth-placed Gor Mahia against KCB, who are third from bottom.

On Sunday, third-placed Sofapaka host bottom-placed Chemilil Sugar at Nyayo from 5pm with Tusker then facing Sony Sugar in the day’s second live match from 7 pm.

Ulinzi are in fine fettle having won four, lost one and drawn two in the second leg and also boast the meanest defence in the league with just two losses. They will, however, have to make do without midfielder Eric Apul who is suspended after being sent off two weeks ago.

They face a Mahakama side that has shown stomach for battle in the second leg, losing only twice in seven second-leg games compared to eight times in the first leg.

Coach Sammy Omollo will again rely on his mid-season signings –John Wawu, Sky Kizito, Silas Chege and Zablon Amanaka to provide steel and experience while Paul Obara, who has already scored three times for the Justice Boys, will lead the attack. Revenge will be on the menu when Gor Mahia take on KCB in Saturday’s second match, having lost the first leg by a single goal.

Mighty Kogalo welcome back Musa Mohammed and Anthony Akumu, who have been away for most of the past month with the national U20 team.

They face a KCB side that is plummeting down the log.  The Bankers have lost the highest number of games in the league — 12 — and have conceded the highest number of goals as well — 32.

Key players like skipper Mzitto Oyando and striker Daniel Waweru are still sidelined with the onus of rescuing their season falling on Ezekiel Odera, who has notched eight goals this season.

On Sunday, champions Sofapaka will go in search of their sixth win in eight games against Chemilil.

Sofapaka boasts the most potent striking force and with the league’s top scorer John Barasa leading the attack against his former side, it will be a tough afternoon for the Sugarmen.

He will have plenty of support from Bob Mugalia and Allan Wanga up front while the midfield trio of Anthony Kimani, Mussa Mude and Humphrey Mieno will look to create the opportunities. Chemilil are up to their necks in the ugly battle of relegation.

The Sugarmen lost key players in the June transfer window and the effects have been profound with the side unable to muster a win in seven matches.

Goals have been hard to come by, managing a paltry 10 in 22 matches. With three straight wins, former champions Sony will take on Tusker in confident mood. The return of Francis Barasa as coach has revitalised the Sugarmen, forming a cohesive unit with veterans Dennis Onkangi, Marwa Chamberi and Sylvester Wanyama working well with a slew of youngsters like Joshua Oyoo, Luke Ochieng, George Amayo and David Otieno. They face a Tusker side brimming with confidence after a 3-0 away win over Western Stima last time out.

The Brewers will be boosted by the return of joint top scorer Paul Were, who has been away on national duty with the under-20 team. Collins Kisuya, Jaffery Oyando and Crispine Olando, who all missed the last league assignment due to suspension, are also back in the reckoning.