NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Gor Mahia skipper Musa Mohammed has admitted that immediate former head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira’s sudden exit from the club has shocked the players, but insists it will not hinder their hunt for the league title this season.
Marcelo tendered his resignation at the club on Thursday and took the next flight home, barely four days after returning from mid-season holiday in his native Brazil.
“Of course you know when a father leaves, there has to be some effect on the children. As players it came as a huge surprise to us when he left, but again, that is the nature of football. Of course we are sad that he has to go, but that does not mean life stops there,” the tough tackling defender said.
“We are still focused just like we have been throughout the season and our target remains one, to win the title,” Mohammed added.
He says they have confidence that Zedekiah Otieno who has been Ze Maria’s assistant will steer the ship to its destination which is their 16thdomestic league crown.
“Zeddy has been around Gor for a while and we as players have full faith in him. We know he will continue from where Ze Maria left from and we will still be a tough team to beat,” Mohammed further commented.
The coach’s first job in charge will be on Sunday when K’Ogalo takes on Sofapaka at the Kinoru Stadium in Meru as the KPL resumes following a three-week break.
Gor are looking to guard their lead at the top of the standings where they currently sit with 27 points, only separated from second placed Tusker by goal difference.
Against a team that has beaten them only twice over the last eight years, Gor will have a bit of confidence heading into the fixture.
“It is a very tough match because Sofapaka have strengthened their squad with new players and they are also looking to win the title. We don’t expect it to be an easy affair,” Mohammed said of the fixture.
Batoto ba Mungu have been on a signing spree, bringing on board 12 new players, most of whom are expected to slot straight into the starting team.
Among those who join the 2009 champions include left back Wesley Onguso from Western Stima and the Chemelil Sugar duo of Willis Ouma and Hillary ‘Fordy’ Echesa.
“We have worked to ensure there is coordination in the team because there are many new players in the team. So far I think I am impressed with how the training has been. It will be tough against Gor but hopefully, we can get a win,” Sam Ssimbwa, the Sofapaka coach noted.
In other fixtures this weekend, joint leaders Tusker FC will be facing a potential banana skin encounter when they take on Kariobangi Sharks at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. Tusker have won seven matches on the trot in the league and are looking to keep up the same form against Sharks.
The brewers are boosted with the arrival of two key players, left back David Mwangi who will be a direct replacement for Shafik Batambuze who left for Tanzania and forward Paul Odhiambo who joined from Sofapaka.
Sharks have not been as busy in the transfer window but have retained their entire squad which has been unbeaten over the last seven league matches with four wins and three draws.
Elsewhere on Saturday, new AFC Leopards coach Dorian Marin will take his maiden bow as the club’s new boss when he leads Ingwe out against another struggling side, Mathare United.
Last season, both home and away fixtures ended in identical 1-1 results while overall, Mathare has a slight edge over Ingwe in the last 16 matches. AFC has won four, Mathare five while the remaining nine ties ended in draws.
Leopards’ two new acquisitions midfielder Keziron Kizito and striker Alex Kitenge might be given their debuts for the club, same as the returning Musa Mudde who rejoined the club from Bandari FC.
Mungai Kiongera and skipper Bernard Mang’oli still have their futures undecided as their contracts end on June 30.
Mathare on their side have lost five matches on the trot and will be looking to bounce back to positive results. Head coach Francis Kimanzi, recently handed a new one year contract will hope for an end to his side’s bleak past as they look to get off the bottom of the log.
KPL Weekend fixtures:
Saturday: AFC Leopards v Mathare United (Nyayo Stadium), Chemelil Sugar v Nzoia Sugar (Chemelil Complex), Thika United v Posta Rangers (Thika Sub-County Stadium).
Sunday: Bandari v Western Stima (Mbaraki Complex), Kakamega Homeboyz v Zoo Kericho (Mumias Complex), Kariobangi Sharks v Tusker FC (Kenyatta Stadium Machakos), Muhoroni Youth v Nakumatt (Muhoroni), Sofapaka v Gor Mahia (Kinoru Stadium, Meru), Ulinzi Stars v Sony Sugar (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru).