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Gor Mahia look to extend KPL lead

Gor Mahia players join Francis Kahata in celebrating his sumptuous goal against Thika United in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Machakos Stadium on April 22, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25- Kenyan Premier League defending champions Gor Mahia will stretch their lead at the top of the log to five points if they pick a win against Chemelil Sugar on Wednesday afternoon at the Kericho Green Stadium.

The record 16-time champions look on course for a 17th title having started the season on a blistering note and with three matches at hand enjoy a two-point gap at the top.

“It hasn’t been an easy start to the season but I am hopeful we can maintain it. We were fantastic against Thika on Sunday and I want to see that same hunger when we play Chemelil,” Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr noted.

The odds are hugely stacked in K’Ogalo’s favor as they prepare to face the sugar millers. Of the last 18 meetings between the two sides, Gor has lost only twice, the last of which came in 2010. Gor have won 14 of those ties, including the last three where they have conceded only once.

Chemelil, who are eighth on the log have won only once in their last five games with three of those winless games coming off draws.

The sugar millers were dealt a blow a fortnight ago when their head coach Patrick Odhiambo decamped to Sony and are yet to land a replacement.

But they have had a fairly good start to the season and have amassed 17 points off 11 matches, sitting eight points off the leaders.

-AFC face Sharks-

AFC Leopards forward Ezekiel Odera celebrates his goal, mourning his Mother. Photo/Raymond Makhaya

Meanwhile, arch rivals AFC Leopards will be at the Thika Sub-County Stadium seeking to extinguish a poor run of four winless matches, two of which have been losses.

Interim coach Dennis Kitambi will still be in charge of the team despite the arrival of new boss Radolfo Zapata who is expected to start work officially on Tuesday next week.

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Kitambi began his interim tenure on a bursting note winning four straight matches, but he has failed to replicate the same form in the consecutive games.

“The opponents have also been watching us and come to counter our mistakes. We have been doing very silly small small mistakes especially in defense and giving away cheap goals. We have tried to work on that and hopefully we mark some improvement and get back to winning,” the tactician said.

Four points separate the team in the standings with Ingwe pegged at sixth while Sharks who have had a shaky start to the season are five places below at 11th.

“Sharks is a very good team regardless of their current form and it will not be an easy game. We should ensure we fully put our concentration down and not allow them possession of the ball,” Kitambi further noted.

Kariobangi Sharks tactician William Muluya passes instruction to midfielder Michael Bodo during a Kenyan Premier League match against Kakamega Homeboyz at the Camp Toyoyo on April 21, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

William Muluya’s charges have also had struggles of their own this season especially after losing key players in Massoud Juma, Elly Asieche, Mathew Odongo and Ibrahim Kitawi.

They have had a similar patch of form with AFC, losing two and drawing two of their last four matches.

“Our problem is that the confidence has been fading because when you don’t win, mentally you become weak. That is what we will work on most of all because once we solve that, we will get everything back on track,” Muluya said of his side’s form.

Last season’s meetings between the two sides were even. Sharks won 2-0 in the first leg, then held on for a point in the second leg. However, Ingwe went on to win 2-0 in the FKF Cup (formerly GOtv Shield) final in the last meeting between the two sides.

-Matano looks for a positive start-

Robert Matano being unveiled as Tusker FC head coach on April 24, 2018 at Ruaraka.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

At the Camp Toyoyo turf in Nairobi’s Jericho estate, Robert Matano starts his second coming at Tusker FC when he leads the bartered brewers against a resurgent Wazito FC, seeking more or less redemption for a grey patch.

Tusker have had only two victories in 11 KPL outings and are under huge pressure to bounce back to winning ways.

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“We talked on Monday and Tuesday and I am happy with the response of the players. They have their confidence back and the most important thing is to start this new tenure with a win. I am hopeful we will be able to get things right,” Matano said.

Wazito are enjoying a resurgence of sorts and their three wins in the last five games have sent them up the standings to 14th with 14 points and they can squeeze into the top 10 with maximum points against Tusker.

“They are a very tough team with experienced players and that is another tricky match for us. But we should be able to deal with that well because at least now we have gathered enough experience and the confidence is back,” Wazito head coach Frank Ouna said.

His charges come into the tie beaming with confidence after last weekend’s 1-0 win over Mathare United in one of their best performances yet this season.

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