NAIROBI, Kenya, October 29 – League leaders Ulinzi will be looking to get their title charge back on track when they host Sony Sugar at Afraha Stadium on Saturday.
Looking supremely confident three weeks ago, Ulinzi have dropped four points in their last two matches, raising suspicion that nerves are creeping into the side as the battle for the Kenya Premier League (KPL) crown enters its final stages.
The army men suffered only their third loss of the season last weekend and will be keen to bounce back against an in-form Sony Sugar side that has won seven of their last eight matches.
Despite last weekend’s reverse, the army men boast the best defence in the league having conceded just 14 goals. Goalkeeper Francis Ochieng will again be on duty with Mulinge Munandi, Joshua Odhiambo, Geoffrey Kokoyo and Hussein Mohammed in defence.
The strongest point of Ulinzi is teamwork and spirit and they have to call on all of it against a youthful Sony side. The 2006 champions are in fine fettle having won seven of their last eight matches.
The Sugarmen also tend to do well against top sides, having completed the double over AFC leopards, beaten Mathare, Tusker and drawn against Gor Mahia and Sony in the first leg.
Francis Barasa will again call on the youthful trio of Justin Monda, Joshua Oyoo, David Otieno, Luke Ochieng to lead the charge with veterans Dennis Chweya, Marwa Chamberi and Dennis Onkangi providing ample experience and know how. The first leg was a 2-2- thriller.
On Sunday, 12th-placed Posta Rangers continue their battle for survival when they face outgoing champions Sofapaka in Naivasha from 2pm.
The mailmen have won their last two matches with the appointment of David Ouma having revitalised the side and a win here will almost certainly guarantee survival for another season at least.
They will be buoyed by the first leg where they beat Sofapaka 3-2 in a thriller at City Stadium. Pascal Ochieng has been a pillar of strength for Posta and he will again lead by example. That he is their top scorer with seven goals speaks volumes about his role.
Goalkeeper Victor Omondi’s heroics last weekend, when he saved a penalty, should see him continue in goal. With three ex-Sofapaka players in Michael Khamadi, Hashim Mukhwana and Edward Kauka lining up against their former team, this will have the makings of a derby with the trio eager to prove a point against their former employers.
For Sofapaka, it’s about pride since their chances of retaining their crown are all but gone.
They lost 2-0 to City Stars last weekend and interim coach Ezekiel Akwana will be keen to avoid a second successive defeat.
The 34-year-old has chopped and changed since taking over and expect another raft of changes with Bob Mugalia, Allan Wanga and James Situma set for a recall.
The match will be followed by Mathare United v Mahakama from 4pm.
Mahakama are six points adrift at the bottom of the log and a loss here will consign them to relegation. The omens do not look good with the Justice Boys losing five of their last six matches.
You have to go back to August 15 for their last win when they beat Nairobi City Stars 2-0. Mahakama’s biggest headache has been scoring goals-they have managed only 19 in 27 games.
They will be hopeful as they face a struggling Mathare side that has won a single match in the second leg and have drawn an incredible 18 matches.
Mohammed Hassan who acquainted himself well against Tusker could get the nod again to continue his education at the top level.
Ulinzi Stars v Sony Sugar –Afraha Stadium- 3pm
Western Stima v City Stars –Bukhungu Stadium-3pm
Tusker v Chemelil Sugar- Ruaraka- 3pm
Sofapaka v Posta Rangers- Karuturi
Mahakama v Mathare United- Karuturi
Thika Utd v Gor Mahia- Thika
KCB v Red Berets- Hope Centre
AFC Leopards v Karuturi Sports- Mumias