NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Gor Mahia’s mixed start to the season continued as they suffered their third loss in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) BetKing Premier League this season, going down by a solitary goal to Vihiga United in Nairobi.
An uwanted statistic, the three losses are just one less than they suffered the whole of the 2018-2019 season.
Gor have found themselves in unfamiliar waters and arguably, the absence of fans is starting to take a toll on the team which brags of having a noisy green army behind it every match day.
The reigning league champions came into the tie after back to back victories over Mathare United and Western Stima, but they could not capitalize on the momentum gained.
New coach Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto has his work cut out as he looks to take Gor back on top, the 19-time league champions currently sitting at 10th spot with nine points, 12 behind leaders KCB though they have played two matches less.
For Vihiga and their coach Sammy Okoth, this was a massive morale boosting victory that scaled them to 14th in the standings with eight points.
-KCB go top in the midst of match fixing claims–
The pre-match build up for the tie pitting KCB and Western Stima at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium was overshadowed by the arrest of a Ugandan football agent in Kisumu who was accused of trying to bribe Stima players to lose the match.
The Ugandan was snared into police traps by Stima chair Laban Jobita as he tried to meet and bribe players to lose the match.
Nonetheless, KCB were not distracted and bounced back from their loss to AFC Leopards winning the match 3-1 to move back to the apex of the standings.
The bankers are now on 21 points, one ahead of second placed Tusker who beat Zoo Kericho 2-1 at the same venue the previous day to continue their unbeaten streak.
Tusker have been in emphatic form this season and have not lost a single match since their opening day loss at the hands of AFC Leopards.
In the midst of their streak, one player that has continually shone through is 19-year old forward Henry Meja.
Meja was thrown into the starting role after the injury to David Majak and the young forward has not disappointed, scoring five goals and sitting third among the top scorers.
-Have AFC Leopards picked their groove back?-
AFC Leopards moved into the top five with a second successive win, after beating Kariobangi Sharks 2-0 at Kasarani. Leopards were under pressure after losses to Western Stima and Wazito, but breaking KCB’s unbeaten run and a victory over Sharks have taken them back on song.
Behind Ingwe’s run is a forward who seems to have found his scoring boots; Elvis ‘Machapo’ Rupia. The star striker has scored nine goals in seven matches, an enviable record by any means.
On a day that top scorer Eric Kapaito failed to add to his tally of 11 goals so far this season, Rupia scored one of the two ingwe goals as he moved closer to the Sharks man.
-Wazito a four-midable force?
Francis Kimanzi looks to be getting his tacts right at Wazito FC with the side showing improvement winning four straight top-flight games for the first time ever in their history.
Though not the neatest, the win over Nzoia Sugar on Friday took them to third in the standings with 17 points, just four behind leaders KCB.
The players finally seem to be playing in rhythm, look to have a proper plan in place and have some renewed fight and grit in them.
Can they sustain the tempo till the end?
-Ulinzi, Posta Rangers are kings of draws
In nine matches, Posta Rangers have the league’s unwanted record of picking the most draws. Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo’s men were held to a barren draw by the soldiers, picking up their seventh draw of the season while Ulinzi are now on six in eight matches.
After beating Kakamega Homeboyz 2-0 at home, Ulinzi have gone on a run of five consecutive draws and the absence of their top scorer Enosh Ochieng seems to be hurting them. In the five draws, Ulinzi have only scored once.
While Posta have also had a problem of scoring, they look to be a bit better as in their seven stalemates, they have taken a 1-1 draw in five occasions while the other two have been barren.
Coach Omollo is also saddened by his team’s low scoring count and hopes they can improve on that end.
FKF BetKing Premier League weekend results
Friday: Wazito 2-1 Nzoia Sugar, Mathare United 0-0 Bandari
Saturday: Sofapaka 1-0 Nairobi City Stars, Posta Rangers 0-0 Ulinzi Stars, Gor Mahia 0-1 Vihiga United, Zoo Kericho 1-2 Tusker.
Sunday: KCB 3-1 Western Stima, Kariobangi Sharks 0-2 AFC Leopards, Kakamega Homeboyz 2-0 Bidco United.