NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – Fresh from their 3-0 loss at the hands of bitter rivals Gor Mahia in the Mashemeji Derby, AFC Leopards will be quickly switching their attention to recovery, hoping to bounce back when they play Sony Sugar away on Wednesday afternoon in Awendo.
The loss, their biggest this season dipped them all the way to ninth in the log and head coach Stewart Hall expects them to bounce back in Awendo.
“You have to put this behind and make sure you make them (players) understand they have to take responsibility for that performance and I hope as decent human beings, they will go out and do something about that,” Hall said after the weekend loss to Gor.
Ingwe beat Sony home and away last season and coming up against a side that has not won in the last five matches, they will beam with confidence especially knowing they will be hunting like wounded Leopards.
“It is not an easy match especially playing away, but we need to go out there and do our best,” Hall said of the tie against the sugar millers.
The coach is expected to tinker with his squad a bit, pulling in some fresh legs to avoid the build-up of fatigue, noting they will be travelling back to Nairobi to tackle Zoo Kericho on Sunday.
Sony on their side are placed 16th in the log, just two points shy of bottom spot and head coach Salim Babu is concerned with the dip in his side, having lost four of their last five matches.
“It has been a concern especially our finishing because in the matches we have lost, we created good scoring chances but failed to score. We were punished for our mistakes. It is a tough match against AFC because they are a good side but we will do our best to get three points at home,” Babu said ahead of the fixture.
Sony’s home form has been a worry. Of four matches, they have lost three and only won once, a 1-0 result over Thika United.
– Gor Mahia v Chemelil –
Elsewhere, Gor Mahia will be entertaining Chemelil Sugar at the Thika sub-County Stadium, hoping to pick up another win that might propel them to the top of the log if leaders Posta Rangers drop points.
K’Ogalo head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira has hinted he might make a few changes to his squad that won 3-0 against Leopards in the derby over the weekend to ensure his side remains fresh with another fixture over the weekend beckoning.
It will not be an easy tie for Gor against the sugar millers who are the league’s third best defensive team, having conceded only three goals in nine matches.
Abdallah Juma’s side which has already picked wins over top teams AFC Leopards and Bandari are ninth in the log with 14 points and hope to pick another top casualty on the way.
Chemelil though will be worried by a poor win rate especially on the road, having won only once out of four trips away, a 2-0 result over Sony Sugar. They have drawn two and lost one.
Gor boss Ze Maria knows it will not be a walk in the park against Chemelil and has urged his side to put on the same measure of effort they did against Leopards.
“They are a good and strong team. We should take that match very seriously and we have to play to win like we have always done. That is our philosophy,” the Brazilian offered.
The bumpy Thika pitch will not offer Ze Maria and his boys a convenient avenue for their passing and tactical game and they will head into this fixture with the memory of their shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Mathare United less than three weeks ago at the same venue.
– Sofapaka v Ulinzi Stars –
The Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos will host this heavyweight clash with Sofapaka looking to bounce back after losing over the weekend to Posta Rangers in Nakuru. They come up against an Ulinzi side which beat them home and away last season.
The soldiers won 3-2 against Thika United last weekend having suffered back-to-back losses against Zoo Kericho and Kakamega Homeboyz.
“Sofapaka is a tough team, we should be wary of them. They are not the team of last season. They have recruited well with a very good team of experienced players and it will not be an easy match. We have been playing well but our problem has been scoring. I am hoping we can improve on that,” Ulinzi head coach Benjamin Nyangweso said.
Ulinzi are the league’s best scoring team having hit the back of the net 13 times and most of this has to be attributed to the return of fitness of who they call the ‘pint-sized’ assassin Stephen Waruru.
Despite playing only six matches out of nine, Waruru who was the Kenyan Premier League top scorer in 2012 with 12 goals has scored nine goals and currently leads the hunt for the 2017 golden boot.
Sofapaka on their side have been relying on an experienced cog, but one of their strong points has been the hard working nature of defender Jonathan Mugabi who has been anchoring their backline.
Another player who has been a stand-out for Sam Ssimbwa’s men is midfielder Mohammed Kilume.
Ulinzi has never lost at the Kenyatta Stadium. This season, they beat Smouha 3-0 in the CAF Confederations Cup, beat Kariobangi Sharks 1-0 and drew 0-0 with AFC Leopards.
– Other fixtures –
In other midweek tie, defending champions Tusker FC will be away to Zoo Kericho, a side that seems to have found its mojo with back to back wins over Ulinzi Stars and Western Stima.
Tusker head coach George ‘best’ Nsimbe is wary of the danger posted by Zoo and has urged his side which has won thrice on the trot not to lower their tempo.
“The same way we play against Gor Mahia or the other top teams is the same way we will play against them. It is a tough game away from home and we have to continue winning,” Nsimbe said.
Sammy Okoth’s men have not won at home this season but that might count for nothing basing on their new found form.
Tusker will be without midfielder Cersidy Okeyo who has been in imperious form for the brewers of late, having picked up an injury in training.
Elsewhere, leaders Posta Rangers will be in the sugar belt, tackling Muhoroni Youth with. Posta are unbeaten this season and their near perfect defensive record has been their biggest backbone having let in only two goals in nine matches.
But a huge worry has been their 1-0 wins which have left them living dangerously and head coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo has urged his players to score more than one goal for the first time this season.
KPL midweek fixtures:
Bandari v Nzoia United (Mbaraki, Mombasa), Gor Mahia v Chemelil Sugar (Thika Stadium), Kakamega Homeboyz v Western Stima (Mumias), Muhoroni Youth v Posta Rangers (Muhoroni), Nakumatt v Thika United (Ruaraka), Sofapaka v Ulinzi Stars (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Sony Sugar v AFC Leopards (Awendo), Zoo Kericho v Tusker FC (Kericho Green Stadium).