Football

Three matches postponed as Kenyan Premier League gets more intense

The Football Kenya Federation has postponed three matches which were initially set to be held in the Western Kenya counties which were among the 13 listed by the Government as new COVID-19 hotspot zones and slapped with partial lockdown.

The Government announced on Thursday that 13 counties, among the Kisumu, Kakamega, Siaya and Bungoma will have new measures to contain the spread of the virus, which includes the suspension of all sporting activities.

Ulinzi Stars vs Wazito FC, Western Stima vs Nzoia Sugar and Vihiga United vs Bandari have been postponed.

The Federation has suspended all grassroot, county and sub-county leagues within the 13 counties while they say they are engaging the government to ask whether Premier League and National Super League teams can play their games in neighboring counties.

Nonetheless. There will be five matches this weekend, with all top three sides in action.

KCB vs Mathare United FC – Ruaraka Complex, Saturday 3pm

Mathare United coach Frank Ouna

The game will be crucial for both teams in opposite ends of the table. KCB are sitting top of the log while Mathare are rooted bottom and are looking for a way out of the relegation zone.

The Bankers moved to the top of the league after beating Bidco United 1-0 in midweek and will look to ensure they retain their place with victory over Mathare. Head coach Zedekiah Otieno remains confident that his side has the pedigree to remain top and remain a dark horse in the race for the league title.

Meanwhile, Mathare who have won only once this season sit precariously and are in danger of relegation from the top division for the first time ever.

Despite the threat, head coach Frank Ouna says he is not afraid nor under any pressure.

“I am not worried because I am the captain of the ship. If the captain is worried, then there is a danger of sinking the entire ship. I know we are in a bad place but I get comfort in the fact that we are playing better,” Ouna said.

He added; “We are back to playing our traditional game and the only downside is that we are not scoring goals. We dominate opponents, create chances, but we just fail to hit the back of the net. I think we need to have the composure and patience infront of goal. I am confident we can pick up from the drop zone.”

Ouna has not won any match since his appointment to take over from Salim Ali, but he is confident that against KCB, a team he coached when they were promoted into the Premier League in the 2018/19 season, he will get his maiden victory.

Tusker FC vs Kariobangi Sharks – Utalii Complex, Sunday 3pm

Tusker FC coach Robert Matano

Tusker are under pressure, having led the standings for most of the season but now look like they are bottling the title. The brewers lost 1-0 to Posta Rangers in midweek, a loss that saw them drop one place in the standings to second.

Against Sharks, Robert Matano’s men are under pressure to earn maximum points. They play a day after leaders KCB have played and the advantage of knowing their result will be an extra boost of confidence.

A win for the bankers will put Tusker under pressure to win against Sharks while a loss will be an extra motivation for them to go for victory as it will propel them to the top of the log.

“What happened against Posta Rangers is now behind our backs and we are focused on Sharks. We have tried to work on our finishing which has been a big let down for us and hopefully, we will get the goals,” said Matano.

The last time these two sides met, Tusker won 4-2 with Brian Marita and Henry Meja grabbing a brace each.

Sharks who were erstwhile title contenders have blown off the race and three consecutive losses in the league have seen them drop all the way to fifth with 31 points, eight off leaders KCB. A fourth loss in succession will pile pressure on coach William Muluya.

Gor Mahia vs Sofapaka – Thika Stadium, Sunday 3pm

Gor Mahia head coach Carlos Manuel vaz Pinto

Defending champions Gor Mahia have managed to raise themselves back to the top after a disastrous start to the season. K’Ogalo has picked nine wins in succession across all competitions and three in success in the Premier League.

Gor are now fourth in the standings with 34 points, five shy of leaders KCB and with a game in hand. A victory over Sofapaka will be a massive boost especially if the top two drop points this weekend and coach Carlos Manuel vaz Pinto is confident they have what it takes.

“I believe we can win the title and if I didn’t believe, then I should be at home in Portugal today relaxing. We take game by game and step by step despite the fact that we have a very tough run of matches. We have played 10 games in the last one month and that is tough on us. But we cannot make excuses and we need to continue working in the same way,” added the coach.

They come up against a Sofapaka side reeling from a poor run. They beat Batoto ba Mungu 2-1 when they last met in Wundanyi and coach Ken Odhiambo says they come into the tie like wounded lions.

“They beat us in the first leg but I believe we dominated them in every aspect of the match. We are coming into this match like wounded lions and we want to battle for all the points. I am confident in how we are playing and I know we will get a good result in Thika,” said the coach.

Sofapaka are placed 11th in the standings with just 23 points and have won only one of their last five matches.

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