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Sofapaka not giving up on KPL title yet

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Sofapaka bench led by head coach John Baraza (center) during a past Kenyan Premier League clash. Photo/RAYMOND MAKAHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7- With Gor Mahia losing for the first time this season after going down 2-1 away to Bandari FC in Mombasa on Tuesday afternoon, chasing teams have revived hopes of doing the gigantic task of bridging the gap and shocking K’Ogalo for the 2018 Kenyan Premier League title.

Sofapaka, the 2009 champions, are 13 points behind the leaders while Bandari are now 11 points close to the record 16-time champions who nonetheless have a two-game deficit.

Batoto ba Mungu head coach John Baraza says his side will not give up on the chase for the crown and will wait to make the most of any slip ups by Gor.

“We have nine matches remaining this season and that is 27 points to fight for. Definitely, fate is not on our hands, but this is football you never know. Gor will drop points along the way and if they do, we have to make sure we are in a position to benefit. We have to ensure we try win all the remaining games and see what happens,” Baraza told Capital Sport.

Baraza though has bemoaned two losses they picked before last weekend’s 1-0 win against Ulinzi Stars, saying those were six vital points dropped. Sofapaka lost 2-0 to Kariobangi Sharks and 2-1 to Tusker, slowing down their march to catch up with Gor.

“They were very unfortunate losses and I think if we picked those two wins, we would have a very good chance. Against Sony we didn’t play very well. They outplayed us. Against Tusker, we were the best team and played a brilliant game but lost. However, that is behind our backs and we focus ahead,” the tactician added.

Sofapaka strikers Umaru Kassumba, Piston Mutamba and Stephen Waruru celebrate one of the goals in their 3-0 win over Baba Dogo United in the FKF Shield Round of 32 match at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on June 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

In their quest, Sofapaka can hand themselves a huge favor if they BEAT k’Ogalo when the two sides lock horn on the 22nd of this month, the tie tentatively set for the Kinoru Stadium in Meru.

They came inches close to beating the league leaders when they met in the first leg having come from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 but conceded a last minute goal.

The other side with a probably realistic chance of catching up with Gor is AFC Leopards who are fourth with 42 points. Ingwe were 1-0 winners over Mathare United over the weekend, a result that injected some hope of fighting for the title.

Mathare started the season as one of the title prospects, but have since slumped after a brilliant start and have gone eight matches without enjoying victory. They are now placed seventh in the standings with 35 points.

Meanwhile, while the battle for the league looks more of a chance battle, the one at the extreme end of the table promises to shape down to a battle down to the wire.

Wazito are bottom of the pile with 20 points, same as Thika United but with an inferior goal difference. Vihiga United occupy the play-off slot with 23 points, four behind the safe zone occupied by Chemelil Sugar.

Wazito FC head coach Frank Ouna quenches his thirst during a past Kenyan Premier League match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

League debutants Wazito have not won a league game since their 1-0 victory over Sofapaka on April 29 and have lost nine of their last 12 outings. They played to a 0-0 draw with Nzoia Sugar over the weekend, but they look far from convincing especially after massive exits in mid-season

Thika United survived the chop last season after winning 1—against Ushuru in the promotion and relegation play-off, but if their form this season is anything to go by, it looks like a tall order.

Just like Wazito, Thika have been forced to do some serious rebuilding after most of the first team players left in mid-season and have lost four of their last five games. Losses against Nakumatt and Sony Sugar have had massive blows on their survival bid.

Vihiga have lost three matches on the trot and new boss Mike Mururi has a tall order to rescue the side from the snare of relegation. Their closest rivals to safety, Chemelil, beat them 1-0 last weekend to move three points clear.

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