NAIROBI, Kenya, April 17 – League champions Gor Mahia have been boosted by the return of Harambee Stars midfielder Anthony Akumu, who will be available for selection when they face plucky Thika United in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top 8 quarter-finals at Machakos’ Kenyatta Stadium on Sunday.
Akumu makes a comeback after missing four matches following the knock he picked three weeks ago at Top Fry Nakuru.
However, K’Ogalo will once again miss the services of their captain and custodian Jerim Onyango, who was sidelined when the team beat Ulinzi Stars 2-1 in Nakuru.
This will be the first Top 8 match for coach Bobby Williamson, and the Scotsman says his charges will be aiming to reclaim the trophy they last lifted in 2012.
“We are looking forward to the game since it’s a competition we want to do well but we will have to work hard. We know how Thika plays, very defensive minded and they don’t concede easily but we have worked on that and I hope our forwards will be up to the task.
“We will try to win the game in regulation time, but for them (Thika) I don’t know their plan maybe they will defend the game and rely on penalties. We will consider what to do in the next two days of our training before the match so that will can be ready in either way,” Williamson told Capital Sport after completing their training session at Nairobi’s City Stadium on Thursday.
His opposite number John Kamau, had a different opinion saying there is nothing special about K’Ogalo since they have managed to hold them three times out of the last five encounters.
“Top 8 is a game like any others the only difference is that it’s a knock out game and as a coach I’m only left with one option and that’s to win the game because if I lose I’m out of the tournament. As a team we would like to improve on last year’s performance so it’s a match that we will give the most desirable attention and God willing we emerge the winner.
“The only special thing about Gor is the fans who act like their 12th man on the pitch which might make the difference but we are ready for them since we have played against them and we know how they play. The shift of venue does not affect me since I’m comfortable to play anywhere anytime because I’m ready,” the Thika United coach stated.
For Thika they will be looking to win the title for the first time after coming close last season where they lost 5-3 on spot-kicks to Tusker FC in the final after settling for a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
On the other hand Gor will be going for their second and hope to make history by becoming the first team to reclaim the trophy.
The Brookside sponsored side has been a hard nut to crack for K’Ogalo and no one can forget when they denied them the league title in 2012 after forcing a 1-1 draw in the last match of the season that saw Tusker crowned champions.
Both teams understand how the other plays with Thika having the bragging rights after holding K’Ogalo to a barren draw in their last encounter one month ago.
As Williamson will be fielding players who have not been regular, the likes of midfielders Dan Onyango and Joseph Kariuki as well as forward Jared Obwoge, his counterpart will be parading a strong first XI that comprises of keeper Hamuza Muwonge, defenders Simon Mbugua, Sammy Mejja and captain Dennis Odhiambo.
Kamau’s midfield will be manned by Joseph Kuria among others, with Moses Arita and David King’atua upfront.
In the first quarter-final Ulinzi will be up against struggling KCB at the same venue on Saturday.
Winner of each match will join defending champions Tusker FC and AFC Leopards in the home and away semi-final that kick-off next weekend.