NAIROBI, Kenya, July 15- A five point gap is the difference between Kenyan Premier League leaders Tusker FC and close challengers Mathare United as well as champions Gor Mahia, but Paul Nkata, the Brewers head coach is not about to let his feet off the gas pedal.
Tusker play at home to a tricky Chemelil Sugar side this Sunday at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos and the Ugandan tactician said they will step up even higher from the tempo they played with last weekend against Ulinzi Stars.
“We cannot relax now. The league is a marathon and we might have a five point gap between us and number two, there is still so much to do. We need to work even harder, if anything,” Nkata told Capital Sport.
He is wary of a Chemelil side they beat 3-0 in the first leg, with Francis Baraza’s Millers having won both their second leg matches.
“They have started the second leg in very good form and defensively, they are a good team. We are well prepared, knowing the challenge that is ahead of us. We are going there for nothing but a win,” Nkata added.
The tactician has also disclosed striker Allan Wanga will be available for the match though he will not be guaranteed a start. Wanga missed last weekend’s 2-1 win at Ulinzi Stars due to malaria and he is eager to mark his return to the Kenyan Premier League with his boyhood club.
Tusker has the potential of opening an eight point gap if Gor and Mathare United lose their matches.
Gor tactician Jose Marcelo Ferreira hopes his side can bounce back after dropping points against Kakamega Homeboyz last weekend and avoid a further skip up when they face a tough test in Ken Kenyatta’s Ushuru FC.
The tax men held Gor to a barren draw in the first leg and they will be looking to pick up their first ever win over the reigning league champions.
Ushuru have as well never scored a goal against Gor, but they will hope new signing Lamin Diallo who scored against Gor in the first leg while playing for Leopards brings some good luck with him.
Francis Kimanzi’s ‘slum boys’ will host a rejuvenated AFC Leopards hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 1-0 loss away to Western Stima last weekend.
Mathare though face a Leopards side beaming with confidence after beating Thika United 4-0 last weekend, their biggest win this season. The first leg between these two sides ended in a one-all stalemate.
Ingwe coach Ivan Minnaert hopes his well-oiled side can churn out another important win against a side of Mathare’s stature, admitting it will be a more difficult test for his charges.
“Mathare is a strong team, they play well and it will not be easy for us. But slowly, we have been improving because we have trained more and more and we are getting that unity as a team. Hopefully, we show a better game,” Minnaert offered.
Leopards will hinge their offensive duties on Mungai Kiongera who has made a huge impact in the two matches he has played, not only with his scoring and assisting prowess but also defensive attributes.
Mathare’s backline marshalled by the experienced George ‘Wise’ Owino and the youthful Robinson Kamura will have some extra work to do but with a side that has conceded 13 goals so far, they should not find it that hard.
Kimanzi, who is keen to win the league title with Mathare for the second time will be yearning for three points as his side looks on to close the gap with Tusker.
Saturday: City Stars v Ulinzi Stars, Mathare United v AFC Leopards (Nyayo Stadium), Thika United v Western Stima (Thika County Stadium), Kakamega Homeboyz v Sofapaka (Mumias Complex), Muhoroni Youth v Posta Rangers (Muhoroni Complex), Sony Sugar v Bandari (Awendo Green Stadium).
Sunday: Tusker FC v Chemelil Sugar (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Ushuru FC v Gor Mahia (Nyayo Stadium).