NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – Meru, the eastern Kenya town more famed for the global export of Miraa (Khat) stimulant, scientifically known as Chata Edulis is set for a historic football invasion when domestic titans Tusker and league champions Gor Mahia lock horns in the first leg of their KPL Top 8 semi at Kinoru Stadium, Sunday afternoon.
After the demise of Mafuko Bombers, the area not known for her sporting prowess was in the football doldrums until the Brewers decided to make the refurbished stadium their home this season.
Already, Tusker’s first game at Kinoru against KRA that ended 3-0 in their favour was a sell-out and with the Green Army set to rock the town in their hundreds, Meru is set for a spectacle that will be the talk of town for long, with millions of Kenyans set to witness the rumble as it unfolds with the first ever live broadcast from Kinoru on SuperSport, Channel 219 to boot!
Amid the anticipated spectacle, Gor are heading to the game with Team Manager Francis Ouna in charge.
Bereaved head coach Bobby Williamson was scheduled to travel to his native Scotland for the burial of his mother Friday night whilst his assistant, John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla is recuperating after being hospitalised last week.
Green Army fans who took to social network to condole with the head coach are also mourning the passing of dedicated ‘K’Ogirlo Diva’ Ann Auma popularly known as ‘Rambanya’ who passed on after an accident in Nairobi two days ago.
With the evil spirits of the Grim Reaper and illness swirling around the club, K’Ogalo faithful travel to Meru hoping their beloved KPL champions will once again make mockery of off field woes that have plagued them this season ranging from financial shortfalls to huge debts with the taxman.
In that period of uncertainty and depression, Gor have been galvanised to string six successive league wins that sees them perched at the top; five points ahead of the Brewers who will be hoping to nip their momentum on the bud in their new adopted home of Kinoru.
Gor are fresh from a 1-0 win over surprise package Chemelil Sugar and the small matter of earning revenge against Francis Kimanzi’s side that knocked them out of the Top 8 last season is enough motivation for K’Ogalo.
Most importantly, the second leg is scheduled for Gor’s spiritual home of Kisumu City and the rank and file in K’Ogalo would wish for nothing less than heading for the return without the undue pressure of chasing a deficit in front of their feverish bedrock support in the lakeside.
Kimanzi has ended the hangover that saw Tusker backpedal in recent weeks to rise as Gor’s closest challengers with the team stopping the resurgent KRA when they clashed at Kinoru in their maiden match in the league a week ago.
“We will are prepared for the game, we have played Tusker early in the year and we know how they play so we don’t expect new things even though they will be without me since I’m flying out tonight to attend my mum’s burial. I believe the boys will keep on the momentum and win.
“All players are fit and I have no injury worries so people should not expect any change. I wish them all the best as they carry on the winning spirit to Meru,” Williamson told Capital Sport before leaving for Scotland.
“I believe at the end of the season we will be having something because players are focused and as we said earlier we are here to win trophies. Being defending champions we have to fight for our title and show Gor we are there,” Tusker Team manager Willis Waliaula said from across the fence.
Their previous encounter this season saw the teams share out a 1-1 draw in the league with Tusker coming from behind to pin K’Ogalo having played the last 12 minutes with nine men.
With the Green Army set to paint Meru green, for football purposes as opposed to the green of Khat (Miraa) locals are accustomed to, the Eastern region’s hub is set for a thrill before the mouth-watering return goes to ‘Dala’ (home in Dhuluo).
The two are expected to field in their strongest squad since they have all their key players available for selection with the host boasting of having depth in the midfield; the likes of Brian Osumba, Ugandan Khalid Aucho, Osborn Monday, Kevin Kimani and Robert Omunuk.
The visitors on the other hand have a stable backline led by Harambee Stars defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino, Musa Mohammed, Haron Shakava and Cranes left back Godfrey Walusimbi as well as lethal forwards of Rama Salim and talisman Dan Sserunkuma who has so far netted six in the KPL.
KPL have announced tight security where over 100 police officers will been deployed with 10,000 tickets available with VIP retailing at Sh600 (USD 6.8) while terraces will go for Sh200 (USD 2.3).
To reach the last four, K’Ogalo edged out plucky Thika United 2-1 as defending champions eliminated Sofapaka 5-6 in post match penalties.