NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 – Champions Gor Mahia return to action at Nyayo National Stadium looking for their first win in three matches, when they host a determined Chemelil Sugar on Saturday.
Jose ‘Ze Maria’ Marcelo’s side has unconvincing won only once in their last five matches, a 2-1 result at relegation threatened Nairobi City Stars in July.
They then went on a dry run, firing blanks in goalless draws against Sony Sugar, Bandari and Posta Rangers.
Furthermore, K’Ogalo enter the Chemelil clash wounded, having been bundled out of the GOtv Shield in the round of 16 by National Super League side Nzoia United who won 1-0, but this time, the three-peat champions hope to thrust themselves towards leaders Tusker FC with victory in Nairobi.
Gor who are a pale shadow of themselves compared to their triumphant 2015 campaign, are seven points off Tusker FC and Ze Maria can ill-afford any more slip-ups for them to keep their dream of lifting a record fourth back-to-back KPL title alive.
Chemelil have a poor head-to-head record against Gor in the Premier League, having last beaten K’Ogalo way back in 2010 when they won 3-0, and that has inspired head coach Francis Baraza ahead of the clash.
Unlike Gor, the Sugar Millers are enjoying fine form having won all their last four matches and Baraza is confident he will maintain the run on Saturday as they seek to cement a place in the top eight.
“I’m facing a big team and that’s Gor Mahia; we respect them but don’t fear them. I have met them many times and I will go to Nairobi to collect three points. I have followed up on them and yes they are struggling but they are trying,” Baraza, who was named the Coach of the Month for August, warned.
“If you look at the Nzoia match they tried and played well but luck was not on their side so it will not be easy for both sides. We are facing defending champions, I will give my best because I know they will come seeking for an early goal but I will try to stop them.”
Chemelil have no injury concerns after the recovery of goal keeper Samuel Odhiambo who trained with the team and looked fit for selection.
Their top midfielder Victor Majid is back from international duty and will look to use the inspiration of earning his first ever call up to spur his side to a morale boosting win over the defending champions.
On the other side Gor will miss the services of Burundian right-back Karim Nizigiyimana who is suspended after picking five consecutive yellow cards.
He also missed the last match against Nzoia and Luke Ochieng might be called up again to fill the void.
The return of six players; custodian Boniface Oluoch, Musa Mohammed, Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, Francis Kahata (Harambee Stars), Ugandan Godfrey Walusimbi and Rwandan captain Jaques Tuyisenge from international duty will bring confidence to the squad.
Saturday’s match has a lot at stake for both sides as a win for Gor, who have a match at hand, will cut Tusker’s lead to four points if the Brewers fall to Ushuru while victory for Chemelil will propel them to second if third placed Mathare United drop points to Sony Sugar.
The last time the two sides met was on February 17 when Gor were still under coach Frank Nuttall with the match ending goalless.
Bandari vs AFC Leopards
Gor Mahia vs Chemelil Sugar
Muhoroni Youth FC vs Kakamega Homeboyz
Nairobi City Stars vs Western Stima
Posta Rangers vs Thika United
SoNy Sugar vs Mathare United
Ulinzi Stars vs Sofapaka
Ushuru FC vs Tusker FC