Football Football

Ze Maria eyes Homeboyz scalp as Ulinzi, Tusker engage in battle at the Rift

Gor Mahia head coach Jose Marcelo Fereirra 'Zemaria' is eying a treble with three-time Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.
Gor Mahia head coach Jose Marcelo Fereirra ‘Zemaria’ is eying a treble with three-time Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 8- Gor Mahia head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira has called on his charges to keep their form rolling when they host Kakamega Homeboyz on Sunday at Kisumu’s  Moi Stadium, their eyes fixed on a 10th consecutive win in all competitions.

The Brazilian tactician believes he has the right ingredient in his team to win a record 16th title and the fourth in a row, but has challenged his boys not to keep their eyes off the prize.

“We are Gor Mahia, we know what is required of us and every day I tell the players when they go into the pitch they should work hard and get a good result. We have to win every weekend we play from now until the season ends for us to win the league,” the coach, referred as ‘Ze Maria’ told Capital Sport.

Gor were 3-0 winners over Homeboyz in the first leg played at the Mumias Complex but despite the huge score-line, Ze Maria says they faced a tough test and expects the same on Sunday.

“They are a tough team with very good players and we saw this in the first leg. I expect them to come fighting in the second leg. I feel we are well prepared, we have done what is necessary and hopefully we can get all three points,” he offered.

The two sides have met thrice in the league with Gor winning twice and Homeboyz’s best result being a 0-0 draw in their first ever meeting in 2013.

Mike Mururi’s charges have done well in the first half of the season, currently occupying eighth spot on 21 points.

But the side should be worried of their current form that has seen them pick only one win from their last five matches, losing twice and drawing a similar number.

The side also has a poor record away from home as they have picked only one win of seven matches on the road, drawing two and losing four.

-Ulinzi  vsTusker-

Ulinzi Stars players celebrate Enosh ochieng's opener
Ulinzi Stars players celebrate Enosh ochieng’s opener

While Gor and Homeboyz square it out in the lakeside City, the Rift Valley will host one of the toughest matches of the weekend, Ulinzi Stars playing league leaders Tusker FC at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.

The military side come off a disappointing exit in the KPL Top 8 Cup to Muhoroni Youth coupled with a loss to title rivals Mathare United last weekend and head coach Robert Matano will demand for a response from his charges.

Ulinzi is one of the only two teams to beat Paul Nkata’s charges this season having won 2-0 in the first leg in Machakos and will be up for a double at the Afraha Stadium.

“We have tried to work on our finishing which has been our problem in the last matches and hopefully we can do well. It is a tough match, no doubt. But there’s no easy match in the league,” Matano said as he prepared his boys to face his former employers.

Ulinzi are fourth on the log  on 27 points, five off Tusker and only three points will keep them jogging to the pace for the league crown.

Tusker on the other hand are wary of defending champions Gor’s pace as they are breathing on their necks at third.

“The gap between the top teams is small and we need to be consistent in every match we play. This is a tough game we are headed to because Ulinzi is also a title contender, but we will be at our best to keep our momentum,” skipper James Situma told Capital Sport.

Mathare United, seen by many as the dark horses in this year’s league chase will be travelling to Kisumu where they play Western Stima on Saturday.

The Francis Kimanzi-coached side is two points shy of leaders Tusker and will hope to bank on any slip up by the brewers with three points against the power men.

-AFC redemption-

AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match.
AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past SPL match.

Elsewhere, under fire Ivan Minnaert will be hoping for a change in fortunes, his side AFC Leopards currently winless in seven matches taking the hunt to their Mumias backyard against Thika United.

James Nandwa’s men beat them 2-1 in the first leg and they will be up to compete a rare double over Ingwe but Minnaert is not ready to see his reputation sail with the wind.

“I am feeling quite confident because we have had more time to work with the new players and played some friendly games to build cohesion. I know this weekend things will be better and different,” Minnaert said.

In other matches this weekend, relegation threatened Sofapaka take their campaign to avoid the chop to the sugar belt when they play a sky-high confident Chemelil Sugar at their backyard.

Assistant coach John Baraza has refused to lose hope of a possible survival by the club who have been hit with dire financial straits and he believes the experienced team they have set up will be enough to earn them an escape from the fangs of relegation.

“This is an experienced team which knows what to do to avoid such circumstances and I am very confident things will be okay. If you look at how we played against Stima last weekend, despite losing there were signs of good things to come. I am positive we will soon start winning. Right now, every match is like a final for us,” Baraza said.

KPL Weekend fixtures

Saturday: AFC Leopards v Thika United (Mumias Complex), Chemelil Sugar v Sofapaka (Chemelil Complex), Western Stima v Mathare United (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Bandari v Ushuru FC (Mbaraki Complex, Mombasa).

Sunday: Posta Rangers v Nairobi City Stars, Ulinzi Stars v Tusker FC (Afraha Stadium Nakuru), Gor Mahia v Kakamega Homeboyz (Moi Stadium Kisumu), Muhoroni Youth v Sony Sugar (Muhoroni Complex).