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Delicate balance as Kerr faces ‘crazy August’

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Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr reacts during his side’s Kenyan premier League clash against Thika United at the Thika Sub-County Stadium on September 17, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr has admitted he will have to make with some intricate balancing acts if his side is to survive one of the craziest fixture schedules, facing ahead of them nine games within the next 25 days.

With the Kenyan Premier League squeezing its calendar to ensure that the league comes to an end by first week of October as per CAF directives, Gor have found themselves in the thick of things, bearing the brunt of their progression in the CAF Confederations Cup.

They are playing the league, continental football as well as the domestic cup where they have reached the quarter finals playing more or less with a second string squad.

“The KPL have killed us. It’s crazy. Nowehere in the world have I ever seen this happen. It has come to a point where we have to make tough choices. We have to look at our best players and know when to use them and when not to use them because especially this month we have two very important games,” the tactician told Capital Sport.

In total in August, Gor will play  10 games, averaging at least a game every three days.

Nakumatt FC’s Timothy Wanyonyi against Gor Mahia’s Bonface Omondi during their Kenyan premier League match in Machakos on August 3, 2018. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

They kicked off the crazy month with a 3-0 win over Kariobangi Sharks in Kisumu on August 1 before playing to a 2-2 draw with Nakumatt FC three days later in Machakos.

They play Bandari (August 7- Mombasa), Posta Rangers (August 10- Kisumu), Kakamega Homeboyz (August 13- Machakos) and Chemelil Sugar (August 16 – Machakos).

After this, they will face Rwandese side Rayon Sport at home in a crucial Confederation Cup fixture on August 19 before playing USM Alger in their final group match 10 days later. In between, they will play Sofapaka on August 22 and arch rivals AFC Leopards at Kasarani three days later.

“It is what it is and we have to make with the situation. We have to ensure every player is fit, every player is happy and we remain hopeful that we are injury free. Otherwise it is a disaster,” the tactician said.

Kerr has made it clear time and again that their most important assignment this season is the Confederation Cup. Currently topping group D with eight points, Gor have a huge chance of making it into the quarter finals.

If they win against Rayon and Yanga lose to Alger, then they will have booked a ticket to the quarter finals with a game to spare. Their final group game against USM in Algeria will be a decider on who tops the group.

Gor Mahia’s Godfrey Walusimbi and Jacques Tuyisenge put USM Alger’s Hemza Koudri under pressure during their CAF Confederation Cup match at the Kasarani Stadium on May 16, 2018 in a CAF Confederation Cup match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

But before that, the tactician has to think in of their league assignments though they have a healthy gap of 13 points with three games at hand.

They were however handed a scare last weekend with Nakumatt equalizing late on to force a 2-2 draw in Machakos, putting to an end their eight-match winning streak.

“Against Nakumatt we were second best. To be honest, Nakumatt was the better team though still we should have won the match looking at the chances we created. It will definitely be tough for us because now everyone will look at that result and saw, hold on, Gor Mahia is beatable,” the tactician noted.

Nakumatt on Tuesday afternoon at a humid Mombasa will offer them a bigger challenge with the dockers having fished three points on their weekend sojourn to Nairobi, beating Posta Rangers 3-1.

They have won three of their last five matches and have lost only twice at their Mbaraki backyard this season.

Gor Mahia winger George ‘Blackberry Odhiambo’ Odhiambo beats Bandari’s Nicholas Meja. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

“Bandari is a tough team and the condition of the pitch there will not make it easy for us. We have already played there in the Cup competition and it was tough. We have to go for the points and at this stage of the season, we need to be ruthless with results,” further added the coach.

He will most likely revert to his strongest 11 with the return of Francis Kahata, Godfrey Walusimbi, Boniface Oluoch, Humphrey Mieno and George Odhiambo who all missed the Nakumatt game with illness while Jacques Tuyisenge has managed to shake off an ankle injury.

“We will definitely want to field a strong side but we also have to look at how we manage the squad to ensure that we stay injury and fatigue free,” the coach added.

A win for Gor will stretch their lead atop the standings to 16 points and two matches at hand.

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