NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18- Four-time Kenyan Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars have vowed not to give up on their hunt for a fifth League crown, saying they will chase current leaders Gor Mahia until the final day of the season.
A massive 14 point gap exists between the two sides despite the fact that Ulinzi have played a match less than the leaders and the two are as well yet to meet in the second leg.
“The league is not over and I will not give up on the title until probably when there are three or so games remaining. This is football and anything can happen. We have a match at hand and we are yet to play Gor Mahia. Those are six points to play for,” Ulinzi head coach Benjamin Nyangweso said after his team’s 0-0 draw with Posta Rangers on Sunday.
He adds; “But we must also win our games. We can’t say we are chasing for the title if we can’t win. That will make things difficult for us. If we keep winning then we stand a chance.”
Gor Mahia still retain a nine point gap at the top of the standings having been frustrated to a 0-0 draw by relegation threatened Thika United and head coach Dylan Kerr has said his side will need to be alert not to drop any more points.
He was lucky as all the five teams below them picked up identical 0-0 draws, thus ensuring that the buffer between them does not change.
“We really need to be careful because we dropped points and now the other teams will look at us and think well, they are beatable. The others below us are putting in a lot of pressure and we have to ensure we get our rhythm back,” the British tactician said.
He has also insisted that the team will not be comfortable despite the healthy lead, saying they give maximum respect to all teams and will not underrate anyone.
“I have not for any moment sat down to think about the title. I think the only time I will do that is when it’s mathematically impossible for anyone to catch us. We can’t be complacent and we need to get winning as well,” Kerr who picked only his second draw since joining K’Ogalo said.
He blamed the side’s performance on the uneven Thika pitch, saying it was very difficult for his charges to play their flowing game having had two superb outings in Kisumu beating Nzoia Sugar 4-0 and Muhoroni Youth 3-0 within a space of four days.
Meanwhile, Posta Rangers head coach Sammy Omollo whose side slipped to eighth after the weekend draw with Ulinzi is hopeful his players will be able to shrug off a tough patch that will see them play four matches within seven days.
Rangers will play fifth placed Kariobangi Sharks on Wednesday at the Kasarani Stadium.
“It is very tough for these players but again, there is nothing much you can do. You can’t change much with less than two days of training. This is where now positive mental strength comes to play. But we will keep on fighting because we want to finish in a respectable position,” Omollo noted.
-Relegation fight intensifies-
While the battle at the top seems to be less intense, the one at the bottom promises to go down to the wire.
There is only an eight-point difference between bottom placed Muhoroni Youth and the safe position 14 occupied by AFC Leopards who play Thika United on Wednesday.
According to the agreement between KPL and Football Kenya Federation, the bottom three teams will be relegated at the end of the season while the 15th placed team will play a promotion play off against the fourth placed team from the National Super League.
From the weekend results, Mathare United, Western Stima and Muhoroni Youth in the red zone all lost complicating their survival fights while AFC Leopards were held to a 0-0 draw by Kakamega Homeboyz.
Thika picked up an invaluable point against leaders Gor, and head coach Nicholas Muyoti believes it is a morale booster, exuding confidence they will not face the chop.
“I am very confident with the way we are playing, we will still be in the Premier league next season. There is a tough run of matches remaining and within the next seven games, I want us to have already secured survival. The point against Gor is a huge motivation for the boys and we hope we can build on it,” Muyoti said after the game.
KPL weekend results
Saturday: Kariobangi Sharks 0 Sofapaka 0 (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos).
Sunday: Posta Rangers 0 Ulinzi Stars 0, Gor Mahia 0 Thika United 0 (Thika Sub-County Stadium), AFC Leopards 0 Kakamega Homeboyz 0 (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Bandari 3 Zoo Kericho 0 (Mbaraki Complex), Chemelil Sugar 2 Nakumatt 0 (Chemelil), Nzoia Sugar 3 Muhoroni Youth 1 (Sudi Stadium), Tusker 1 Mathare United 0 (Ruaraka Complex), Western Stima 1 SoNy Sugar 2 (Moi Stadium, Kisumu).