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No ‘premature title celebrations’ as Kerr urges focus

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Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr conducts a training session.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13- Gor Mahia are just two wins away from a record 16th Kenyan Premier League crown with seven rounds of matches left, but for someone who has never won a league title in his entire coaching career, the excitement is miles away from jolting him into celebration.

Dylan Kerr, the Gor tactician says he is not letting himself carried away and has copy-pasted the same message to his players, instead urging them to keep the focus and ensure they don’t drop the pot at the door step.

“We might be two wins away from the league but to be honest, I am not thinking about the title, they (players) are not thinking about the title. We need to keep playing like we have with the same passion and enthusiasm for all the remaining seven games,” Kerr told Capital Sport.

Mathare United chairman Bob Munro had to intervene to convince Francis Kimanzi to go to the stands after being sent off. PHOTO/raymond Makhaya

K’Ogalo faces Mathare United on Saturday afternoon at the Thika Sub-County Stadium. Coincidentally, on the same venue on April 30, Mathare beat Gor 1-0, the last time the Green Army lost a Kenyan Premier League clash.

Kerr knows it will not be a walk in the park against the Slum Boys especially with the playing surface expected to pose a huge challenge with the current rains.

“Mathare is a very good team. I have watched them play and I know they pose a lot of danger. They are a team fighting relegation and that makes them a very dangerous opponent. We need to go in there with a lot of caution and above all play like we have done the past few matches,” the tactician further noted.

Mathare will be under pressure as they look to climb off the relegation zone as they have 27 points, three away from safety and history will be hugely stacked against them as they play in Thika.

-Head-to-head-

Gor Mahia striker Meddie Kagere celebrating after scoring the opener against Tusker FC. Photo/GOR MAHIA

They have only beaten Gor twice in 17 meetings, the April win coming eight years since the last time they won against K’Ogalo.

Heading into the tie, Mathare has not won over the last five games, losing three and drawing two. Another loss at the hands of the title-chasing Gor would dampen their search for a survival ticket.

A win would propel them to 30 points, same as 14th placed Zoo Kericho who will still enjoy a spot above due to their goal difference. Zoo will be hosting Ulinzi Stars at their Kericho Green Stadium backyard hoping to complete a double over the soldiers after beating them 2-1 in the first leg.

However, arguably the biggest battle of this weekend’s Kenyan Premier League clashes will be down at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu when Western Stima hosts Thika United in a bottom of the table cock-fight.

Thika United head coach Nicholas Muyoti gives instructions to his team at half time during their match against AFC Leopards on September 20 2017. Photo/TIMOTHY OLOBULU

The two sides are only separated by goal difference at 16th and 17th respectively in the standings and whoever wins on Sunday will move closer to avoiding relegation.

Thika are boosted with the return of defenders Collins Okumu and Sammy Mejja while striker Onwudi Chibueze has been declared 100 percent fit to come in and aid head coach Nicholas Muyoti’s low firing frontline.

“Having the three players is a relief for us ahead of this very important game. It is a crucial one and for us, the remaining seven games are of life and death. We need to give 100 percent and pick every point on the way. We have faith of surviving,” Muyoti said.

The first leg played at the Thika Sub-County Stadium ended 1-1 but the return leg in Kisumu is expected to be feisty.

-Relegation battle-

Of the last 17 meetings between the two sides, Thika has won only three while Stima have won five, the rest ending in draws. The odds will be stacked against Thika with not only their not-so-decent record against Stima, but their away record this season as well.

They have failed to win any of their 14 matches away from home this season, losing nine and drawing the rest.

In other fixtures to be played this weekend, AFC Leopards will face Posta Rangers at the Narok Stadium with the hope of picking three points to boost their top five ambitions.

Rangers on their side go into the tie having drawn all their last five matches while their winless streak runs down to 10 games. The last time they tasted victory was a 1-0 victory over Tusker FC in August.

KPL weekend fixtures;

Saturday: AFC Leopards v Posta Rangers (Narok Stadium), Bandari v Sofapaka (Mbaraki Complex, Mombasa), Kariobangi Sharks v Chemelil Sugar (Kasarani Stadium), Mathare United v Gor Mahia (Thika Stadium), Zoo Kericho v Ulinzi Stars (Kericho Green Stadium).

Sunday: Kakamega Homeboyz v Nakumatt (Mumias Complex), SoNy Sugar v Nzoia Sugar (Awendo), Tusker FC v Muhoroni Youth (Ruaraka), Western Stima v Thika United (Moi Stadium, Kisumu).

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