NAIROBI, October 23 – Nairobi City Stars will be out to enhance their great escape credentials when the SportPesa Premier League enters its penultimate stage this weekend with eight matches on the card.
It’s a repeat of 2014 season where City Stars and KCB battled it out to remain in the top flight league but the Kawangware based side bowed out to join Nakuru All Stars before the two were reinstated after the long standoff between Football Kenya Federation and Kenyan Premier League.
With only two matches to wrap up their season, Ugandan forward Jimmy Bagaye handed City Stars a life line last weekend when he stood out as the hero in their 1-0 win over KCB to see them just a point below the Bankers who have 25 and five ahead of all but doomed All Stars.
Both sides face tricky fixtures on Saturday with City Stars travelling to Ushuru FC at Ruaraka Grounds while KCB take on wounded Ulinzi Stars at Nairobi City Stadium.
City Stars under the tutelage of former midfielder, Dennis ‘Wise’ Okoth, cannot afford to drop points as that will guarantee Rishadi Shedu side another season in the top flight league; that is if it is decided two teams will go down at the end of the season.
Such is the chaotic nature of local football management that no one has an idea how many sides will be relegated/promoted with the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Football Kenya Federation and the Kenyan Premier League yet to be executed.
Against Ushuru, Okoth will be without midfielder Joseph Sakwa who was sent off against KCB as they attempt to break their duck against the taxmen after sharing a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Gambian striker, Ebrima Sanneh who has notched 10 goals this season, will lead the team upfront supported by Bagaye and Oscar Mbugua with defenders, John Amboko and Arthur Museve with the responsibility of stopping dangerous Moses Arita, Nelson Marasowe and Allan Katerega in the Ushuru attack.
Ken Kenyatta charges have gone two without victory and will extend City Stars no favours in their pursuit of a Top 8 slot
KCB host an Ulinzi side with their tails up after demolishing fellow titans AFC Leopards 4-0 in the GOtv Shield but head coach, Robert Matano; ironically nicknamed the ‘Lion, an emblem of the parent bank, is eager to shake off their 2-0 loss they suffered at home to Thika United to consolidate second place.
John Nairuka is out for the military men on suspension after accumulating five yellow cards but top scorer, John Makwata, Eric Apul and Evans Amuoka should be equal to the task.
KCB fell 2-1 in the first leg with strikers Paul Kiongera and Chrispinus Onyango entrusted with finding the goals that will aid in preserving their uninterrupted top flight stay since they joined the party in 1999.
Wins for both City Stars and KCB will push the relegation fight down to the wire with the Kawangware based side welcoming Sony Sugar as Shedu’s charges travel to Western Stima.
In-form Muhoroni Youth who are unbeaten in the second leg will be looking to rub salt on troubled Leopards’ wounds when the two lock horns in Kisumu Stadium on Saturday.
Leopards’ fitness will be put to test after only training on Friday in their camp in Mumias after yet another pay dispute derailed the trip.
Head coach Zdravko Logarusic has the unenviable task of lifting his frustrated players for the must-win clash in their quest of finishing with the consolation of a Top 8 finish.
Fourth-placed Muhoroni have punched above their weight this season and are fired up to finish in the podium with head coach, Paul Nkata also eying revenge after Ingwe clawed them 2-0 in the first leg.
“We are just working hard and the fact that results are coming our way is very motivating. We have already surpassed the stipulated targets for this season, but the boys still want to do more and achieve their best possible finish in the league,” Nkata underlined.
-Gor in Tusker test-
On a ‘normal’ season, the clash between champions Gor Mahia and Tusker FC would have been billed as a title decider but on Sunday, the two Kenyan football heavyweights will clash for bragging rights.
Sofapaka were the latest to fail in efforts to hand K’Ogalo a first domestic defeat of the season and despite being a dead-rubber, leftovers from their KPL Top 8 first-leg clash that ended 2-2 last weekend in Nakuru could add spice to the fixture.
Gor raced to a 2-0 lead before a stoppage time equaliser saw the Brewers- who notched their first win under interim boss Leonard Odipo midweek when they stopped Sony Sugar in Awendo- haul themselves back to contention.
Kisumu rocks whenever Gor are in town and Tusker can expect a hostile atmosphere in what will be a home-coming title parade of sorts for the champions who are aiming at ending the campaign unvanquished.
Burundian right back, Karim Nizigiyimana who missed the cup tie returns to the K’Ogalo arsenal and his deliveries will be welcomed by Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere who have forged a potent striking partnership that has rocked the league..
League’s top scorer, Jesse Were (20) will come head to head with Olunga who has 16 goals for a head-to-head clash in the battle for the Golden Boot.
Gor who has a game at hand lead the standings on 69 while the Brewers are sixth on 41.
Sat 24-10-15 15:00 Bandari vs Western Stima – Mombasa County Stadium
Sat 24-10-15 15:00 Ushuru vs City Stars – Ruaraka Ground
Sat 24-10-15 15:00 KCB vs Ulinzi Stars – City Stadium
Sat 24-10-15 15:00 Muhoroni Youth vs AFC Leopards – Moi Kisumu
Sun 25-10-15 15:00 SonySugar vs Nakuru All Stars – Awendo Green Stadium
Sun 25-10-15 15:00 Thika United vs Chemelil Sugar – Ruaraka Ground
Sun 25-10-15 15:00 Mathare United vs Sofapaka – City Stadium
Sun 25-10-15 15:00 Tusker vs Gor Mahia – Moi Kisumu