NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – The Nyayo National Stadium which has been under renovation for the past six months will host Gor Mahia’s Kenyan Premier League home match against Thika United on Sunday, just a fortnight after opening its gates for the Mashemeji Derby.
Also, the stadium might be opened for some select KPL games when need arises, but that will only be guaranteed if the need is high before it is fully opened when renovation work is complete.
The KPL have confirmed that the Nyayo National Stadium management has agreed to give K’Ogalo the thumbs up to host this weekend’s match.
The 15-time league champions have been using the Thika Sub-County Stadium, home to their opponents Thika United as their alternative home ground. However, the standard of the playing surface has greatly deteriorated due to overuse, making it difficult for Gor’s passing game.
The Nyayo Stadium which has been sparingly used will provide an avenue for head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira’s boys to express their Brazilian flair as they look to cement their hold at the top of the log.
Gor opened up a two point gap on the apex after their weekend 1-0 win over Nzoia Sugar in Mumias, courtesy of Meddie Kagere’s 14th minute strike.
The victory took them to 25 points, two ahead of second placed Posta who were pegged back with a 0-0 home draw against Nakumatt FC.
“I am happy because we won in a very tough game, Nzoia fought like warriors and we it was a tough result,” Ferreira said after his side’s win where Nzoia also had a penalty miss.
Despite losing twice already against Western Stima and Mathare United, K’Ogalo have shown great improvement from their form last season.
At this point last season, Gor had managed to pick only 17 points from a possible 33 having started the season poorly, waiting for five matches before picking their first win of the season.
They have been more solid in 2017, with Ferreira maintaining for them to push on with their agenda of winning the title, they have to start the season strongly.
Meanwhile, defending champions Tusker FC seem to have found their footing back after picking up their fifth win on the trot with a 2-1 home result against Sony Sugar at the Ruaraka Complex.
Tusker had started the season poorly, having been eliminated in the CAF Champions League by Mauritian opponents AS Port Louis and going to a lousy start to their title defense.
But head coach George ‘Best Nsimbe who has credited the season turn-around to a change in attitude, believes they are on the patch to defend their title.
They lay fourth on the log with 21 points, four behind leaders Gor.
Ulinzi Stars are a spot ahead of them at third on same points, but with a superior goal difference. The military side who are the league’s best scoring side having hit the back of the net 17 times in 11 matches won 2-1 at home in a tensed tie against Muhoroni Youth.
The victory, their third within a week was a welcome result for head coach Benjamin Nyangweso who has however rued the absence of defender Brian Birgen for their next two matches after receiving a straight red card.
“He has been an important figure for us both defensively and offensively, and it will be a big blow missing him. But the good thing is that we have a deep squad and we can work out on a replacement,” Nyangweso said.
Ulinzi are looking for a first Premier League title since their conquest in 2010 and Nyangweso who masterminded that famous victory is confident his charges are on the right track.
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards continued to struggle as they went for the third successive match without a win, relying on a 86th minute Gilbert Fiamenyo equalizer to scrape a point against Zoo Kericho in Machakos.
Ingwe have suffered due to a thin squad and the absence of right wingback Dennis Sikhayi has proved to be one of their biggest headaches. Sikhayi had been efficient in head coach Stewart Hall’s formation of three at the back and the loopholes seen in the past two matches forced him into a formation change against Zoo.
They went into the 4-3-3 formation but still, they couldn’t sparkle as well as they had in the opening few games of the season.
However, the former Western Stima man has resumed full training and might be in line for a return this weekend when they travel to Mumias to take on Kakamega Homeboyz.
“Another area we have been struggling in is set pieces because we simply can’t defend well. We conceded late at Sony from the same way we conceded at Zoo and it is an area we have to work on. But the point we got from Zoo will help us prepare for Homeboyz. It has added in some confidence,” assistant coach Dennis Kitambi said.
-Kariobangi Sharks surge continues-
Meanwhile, new boys Kariobangi Sharks seem to have found some new form after picking a third successive win, beating Bandari 1-0 in Machakos. The victory pushed them to fifth on the log with 19 points.
Head coach William Muluya has attributed this to a rise in confidence and hard work from his players straight from training.
“The attitude has been great in training and the same has been replicated on match days. I am encouraged because each match we play we are getting better. I don’t want to put pressure on ourselves, but we are taking just a match at a time,” Muluya said.
Sharks will face Sofapaka this weekend and the match might be played at the Narok Stadium, which is in line to host its first ever top flight clash.
KPL Weekend results
Saturday: Chemelil Sugar 0 Sofapaka1 (Chemelil Complex), Kariobangi Sharks 1 Bandari 0 (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Ulinzi Stars 2 Muhoroni Youth 1 (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Western Stima 3 Mathare United 2 (Moi Stadium, Kisumu).
Sunday: AFC Leopards 1 Zoo Kericho 1 (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Nzoia Sugar 0 Gor Mahia 1 (Mumias Complex), Posta Rangers 0 Nakumatt 0 (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Thika United 0 Kakamega Homeboyz 0 (Thika Stadium), Tusker FC 2 SoNy Sugar 1 (Ruaraka Complex).