NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20- Despite a five point buffer existing between his side and Kenyan Premier League leaders Tusker FC, defending champions Gor Mahia head coach Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ is unperturbed and believes his side is still in line to retain the title.
The record 15-time champions have dropped points twice consecutively, being held to a 1-1 draw by Kakamega Homeboyz in Kisumu before playing to a barren draw against Ushuru FC last weekend.
Gor would have bridged the gap to a mere two points had they beaten the Ken Kenyatta’s side and ‘Ze Maria’ was equally irked with the result saying; “I am disappointed. We should have capitalized on Tusker’s slip and reduced the gap.”
With 12 matches to go before the season closes, the Brazilian tactician beams with confidence the team has what it takes to get back to the top of the standings.
“We have 12 games to play. Five points is nothing. When I arrived here, Gor Mahia were behind with seven points but at the end of the first leg, we were on same points with Tusker. So, all is not lost. We still have time and will fight,” ‘Ze Maria’ told Capital Sport.
Gor have been unconvincing in their last three matches and the absence of Ugandan Khalid Aucho in midfield has been felt since he departed for Scottish side Celtic FC.
The partnership of Ernest Wendo and Francis Kahata hasn’t ticked as yet with the champions struggling to create chances off the middle.
Aucho finally got his visa on Tuesday afternoon and will be leaving for trials in the Scottish Premier League, but ‘Ze Maria’ says his absence has not caused Gor to plummet.
“No no no. There is nothing different because Khalid is not playing. The team is still okay,” the coach said.
K’Ogalo’s next assignment will be up against a tricky Nairobi City Stars side which is hard fighting relegation.
The Kawangware based side sits second from bottom on the log, three points off safety and having picked points against Ulinzi Stars and Posta Rangers, they will have their tails up against Gor.
Head coach Tamale Pinto hopes he can improve his striking force as he holds he desire to drift the Kawangware based side off the drop zone.
“I believe we can do it. From the way we have played in the last three matches, I know there is the possibility. The players are plying their hearts out and we now only need to improve a bit on the striking force. I am optimistic we will see better things in the coming matches,” Pinto offered.
The Ugandan tactician was called in to rescue the sinking City Stars ship after John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla left for Muhoroni Youth. The team didn’t do much business in the June transfer window, choosing to keep faith in their young squad.