NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7 – Gor Mahia head coach Steve Polack has explained that striker Nicholas Kipkurui is not getting play-time at the club due to what he termed as ‘off the field issues affecting his mentality’.
The former Zoo Kericho striker enjoyed a good first two seasons since joining the record champions but has seen limited playing time in the second half of the season under Polack.
“I will only field players based on their output in training and that means they have to be fit mentally and physically. You can’t be fit physically and not the same mentally and expect to play. It is very hard. Those two go hand in hand,” Polack explained.
“Kipkurui has some problems off the field which only me and him know about and we had a good chat with him the other day and I tried telling him to put all that aside. As a coach I will help him as much as I can because he is a good player, still very young and with lots of potential,” the tactician stated.
He added; “As a player you have to be mentally ready. For example I read somewhere that the Chelsea keeper Kepa had dipped in form because he had split with his girlfriend of six years. Kip has to realize that he has to put everything off the field behind his back.”
Polack believes that the former Zoo hitman will rise back and says if he shows in training that he is ready, then we will see him on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Polack has praised the speed at which new signings Michael Apudo and Juma Balinya have settled into the team. Apudo has commanded a starting role on the left side of defense while on his first full start, Balinya scored twice as Gor beat Nzoia Sugar 3-0.
“Michael has obviously been in this league and know what is required. He has been an immediate fit while Juma has also done well in training and has shown the desire to integrate quick enough with the rest of the players,” the tactician stated.
Gor will take their hunt to move even further in the standings when they face Sofapaka on Saturday evening at the Narok Stadium. K’Ogalo who have a four point buffer on top of the standings take on Sofapaka just 10 days after the two faced each other in Kisumu, Gor winning 2-1.
Despite the familiarity between the two opponents who have met 23 times before in the league, Polack expects an all out battle.
“They gave us a very good game when we played them last time in Kisumu and I know it will be a very tough match. I watched them again last weekend and they played with the same system so I don’t expect them to change much. It will be a very tough game because they also want to move up the table,” stated the tactician.
The only absentee for Gor in this match will be right back Wellington Ochieng who has been pegged back by a knee injury despite having returned to training. Polack says the wingback will undergo an MRI scan to ascertain whether he needs surgery or not.
Meanwhile Philemon Otieno has started training with the rest of the players, but the tactician says he will not be involved until after two weeks when he can give him a 45 minute appearance in a friendly match.
KPL weekend fixtures (kick off 3pm unless stated)
Saturday: Bandari v Kakamega Homeboyz (Mbaraki), Wazito v Western Stima (2pm), Sofapaka v Gor Mahia (4:15pm Narok), Chemelil Sugar v Posta Rangers (Muhoroni), Mathare United v Zoo Kericho 9Kasarani), Nzoia Sugar v Ulinzi Stars (2pm, Sudi).
Sunday: AFC Leopards v Tusker FC (Nakuru)