NAIROBI, Kenya, April 11- Defending champions Gor Mahia and Tusker FC will both be going for their third KPL Top 8 titles when they face off in the semi-final first leg on Sunday at Nyayo National Stadium.
Gor go into the fixture tails up after a confident run of five wins and head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira is optimistic his side can tick the right boxes and topple the Brewers.
The two sides met at the same stage last season with K’Ogalo winning 4-3 on aggregate.
The two sides have met once this season in the Kenyan Premier League where Tusker won 1-0 in a contentious penalty scored by Humphrey Mieno.
“It is different now. At that point, I had not stayed with the group for a long time. But now, it has been two months of work and we play better, we are more focused with the ball and I know we will be the better team,” Marcelo told Capital Sport.
“Tusker are a tough team with good technical players. But our confidence as a team is quite high and we know we will win,” the Brazilian coach added.
Starting the match at home, Gor will be careful not to concede a goal but it will not be a worry for them as they have kept five consecutive clean sheets in the league.
On the other hand, Tusker’s scoring rate has been below par this season and it will be a point of concern for head coach Paul Nkata as he seeks to topple Gor for the title.
Tusker last won in 2014 being their second title having also won it in 2013.
Nkata is optimistic his side has what it takes to be crowned champions again.
“Gor is a tough team but we are well prepared for them. It is a chance to win a title and definitely we will fight for it,” the Ugandan tactician offered.
Tusker will miss the services of defender Martin Kiiza, who is recuperating from a knee injury, while Gor will be without Ugandan midfielder Khalid Aucho who has not trained with his team mates for the whole week.
The biggest battle in the game is expected in midfield, an area where Kogalo has been using to master their moves upfront and shield the back four as well.
Tusker have Humphrey Mieno and Anthony Ndolo at the heart of their midfield and it will be interesting to watch how they match up against Gor’s Ernest Wendo and Collins Okoth who are expected to form a double pivot in Gor’s midfield.
-Ulinzi vs Muhoroni-
Preceding the titanic clash will be a meeting between 2011 winners Ulinzi Stars and semi-final first timers Muhoroni Youth.
The military side, who have been on a trophy drought since their conquest at the tournament in 2011, have had a week-long high altitude training camp in Nanyuki and feel in good shape ahead of the match against the Sugar Millers.
Striker Stephen Waruru, who is returning to the team from military duty, has been included in the final team of 18 for the Muhoroni clash, and so has Under-20 star Vincent Ochieng and new boy John Kago signed from within the military ranks.
Waruru looks on to partner with current top scorer John Mark Makwatta, who has been in immense form, smashing in 10 goals in the first leg.
Muhoroni will be led by assistant coach Tom Juma with newly appointed coach John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla only set to start work at the team in July.
Muhoroni, who has lost influential defender Wellington Ochieng to Gor, will be looking on the goal scoring prowess of Wycliffe Ochomo, who has scored one more than Makwatta.
Starting as the away team, it will be important for Muhoroni to score as it will ease their burden heading into the return leg next weekend.