NAIROBI, Kenya, March 28- After going down to their first defeat in 21 matches, Tusker Premier League (TPL) bridesmaids Gor Mahia return to action on Sunday against former champions Mathare United in one of the picks of Easter weekend fixtures.
An Evans Amuoka brace condemned Zradvko Logarusic’s K’Ogalo to a 2-0 defeat at their City Stadium citadel on Wednesday as Mathare held 2010 champions Sofapaka to a 1-1 draw at the same venue earlier.
Gor were missing the influential David Owino at the back and Edwin Lavatsa in midfield as well as their emerging lynchpin, Paul Mungai Kiongera who are all in addition to long term casualty Rama Salim as injuries continues to ravage the side.
In recent times, Mathare have proved to be a hard nut for K’Ogalo to crack and after the morale sapping defeat to the 2009 titleholders, Logarusic would not have wished for a worse fixture to bounce back at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
Gor have drawn the last six matches against the Slum boys including the 2-2 and 1-1 stalemates last season as Logarusic came within a win short of leading them to their first title since 1995 on the last day of the campaign.
Injuries especially to their star midfield signing, Kiongera, who before his hamstring folded had netted thrice in two matches for Gor seems to be derailing Logarusic’s side progress.
“We are the only team that can bench their top scorer and best midfielder and still win,” Logarusic said after Kiongera netted the winner against Sofapaka when he rested Ugandan Dan Sserunkuma and Amuoka ahead of their CAF Confederations Cup 3-0 first leg against Egyptian side ENPPI.
This came after Gor recovered from a sluggish start to the campaign to beat Tusker to the DStv/SuperSport Super Cup, maul Anse Re-Union 5-0 away in the Confed Cup before edging Sofapaka in the TPL.
Having recovered from a winless start to beat Western Stima 1-0, bitter rivals AFC Leopards are keen to further end the pressure on their manager, Tom Olaba when Ingwe face Muhoroni Youth in Awendo on Saturday.
Disquiet has been simmering in the Leopard’s den since two draws against Chemelil (0-0) and Sony Sugar (1-1) preceded their 3-2 reverse at Karuturi to put into doubt their title credentials.
The cane cutters launched their season with a disastrous 6-0 mauling by league leaders KCB before recovering to beat Mathare 1-0 and holding Ulinzi 0-0 before they lost 2-0 to Thika United on their last league outing.
Leopards completed the double last season over Muhoroni with identical 2-1 wins and will head to Awendo with history in their favour and a winning result against the sugar millers will set them perfectly for their first ‘Kakamega derby’ against promoted Homeboyz.
Champions Tusker are at the basement of the log on two points following their opening fixtures that have seen Robert Matano’s side draw 0-0 with the Bankers and 1-1 with Karuturi Sport.
With three fixtures at hand against their rivals, the Brewers take on Bandari at City Stadium on Saturday keen to get their defence going after their CAF Champions League hopes took a dent when they were bottled 2-1 by Cairo giants Al Ahly at home.
With 11 on the board, front runners KCB have sustained their tradition of starting the league strongly in recent seasons and the Bankers are hoping to deposit all the three points when they face fifth placed Ulinzi at Nyayo on Sunday.
This will be the first real test for KCB’s ambitions since they take on a side that has stabilised with the appointment of Salim Ali, the former Mathare and Sofapaka coach.
Having been held by Mathare, Sofapaka round off Sunday’s televised triple header at Nyayo when they take on Karuturi Sports with David Ouma’s side who have drawn three, won once and lost once also harbouring ambitions to repeat their championship winning run of 2009.
Easter weekend will see the unprecedented screening of five matches over two days by SuperSport in yet another landmark as listed on the fixture list below.
ROUND SIX FIXTURES
2:00pm: City Stars vs Sony Sugar/City-TV
4:00pm: Tusker vs Bandari/City – TV
3:00pm: Thika United vs Chemelil Sugar/Thika
3:00pm: Muhoroni Youth vs AFC Leopard/Awendo
3:00pm: Western Stima vs Homeboyz/Bukhungu
12:00pm: KCB Ulinzi vs Stars/Nyayo-TV
2:00pm: Sofapaka vs Karuturi Sports/Nyayo-TV
4:00pm: Gor Mahia vs Mathare United/Nyayo –TV
3:00pm: Homeboyz vs AFC Leopards/Mumias