The fight for the Kenyan Premier League crown intensifies this weekend with both Tusker FC and KCB seeking to change or improve their fortunes with the home stretch of the season gathering more intensity.
Tusker who lead the standings with 55 points will be at home against Nairobi City Stars while second placed KCB who are a point below the brewers are also playing at home to Posta Rangers in Thika.
Tusker will retain their place on top of the log with victory over City Stars while KCB will be hoping the brewers drop points at home and they pick maximum three from Posta’s boxes in Thika.
Against City Stars, Tusker face a tricky tie especially looking back to the first leg when they played to a 2-2 draw. They had to come from two goals down to clinch a point from the tie at Utalii and when they meet up in a more precarious situation, Tusker will be keen not to drop more points.
Their last draw against Mathare United piled pressure on them with KCB corresponding with a win over Kariobangi Sharks to breathe on their necks.
But, the alemen say they are under no pressure.
Title fight between Tusker FC and KCB
“Tusker is a big team and we are used to bTitle fight between Tusker FC and KCB in KPLeing in that position so there is no pressure for us. We are just concentrating on our matches. Of course sometimes it is painful when we drop points, but we usually regroup quick and take the focus to the next assignment,” midfielder Jackson Macharia told the club’s official website.
Meanwhile, KCB will be facing a side that has never beaten them in their Premier League history. Of 11 meetings, the bankers have won seven and only dropped points in four. The last meeting played at the Kasarani Annex ended in a 3-0 victory for Zedekiah Otieno’s bankers.
Otieno, formerly with KCB is not afraid to proclaim his desire to clinch the title.
“I have won the league title as a player, I have won it as a captain and I recently won it as an assistant coach. So why not now win it as a head coach?” posed the tactician.
On his exploits over the next seven games, Otieno who won the league with Gor Mahia as an assistant coach says they are not getting ahead of themselves.
“We are just taking a match at a time because the top position is out of our hands. We are just hoping that they drop points somewhere while we continue winning all our matches. We will just keep working for the seven remaining games and see what comes out of it,” said the coach.
At the beginning of the season, no one gave the bankers a chance of vying for the title but as the season has progressed, they have continued to silence their doubters and their performances week in week out have strengthened their title credentials.
“The boys are doing a good job and working hard. The results we are seeing n the pitch are not fluked and everyone can see what we are doing. We are almost achieving our targets. When the season started, just like everyone, our objective was to fight for the title and we are still there,” the coach added.
While the top of the table fight gets intense, so will the bottom of the log be ahead of what promises to be an intense relegation fight.
Nzoia Sugar play host to Bandari while Vihiga United take on Ulinzi Stars in the late kick off, both games being played at the ASK Showground in Nakuru.
Nzoia are placed 14th in the standings with 23 points, three off the relegation zone but victory against Bandari will hoist them further away in safety. Coach Ibrahim Shikanda says his team cannot afford to drop points and their minimum target from the tie is at worst a draw.
“It is getting tougher but we have to remain focused. At this stage of the season we cannot afford to lose,” said the coach. Nzoia have not won in their last four games, drawing three and losing once.
Meanwhile, Vihiga United can take themselves out of the red zone and above Stima if they can beat Ulinzi at their home turf. Coach Mike Mururi has called on his charges to dig in deep into their energy reserves to claw victory.
They beat fellow strugglers Stima 2-0 in their last match at the same venue and will seek inspiration from that performance.
Stima meanwhile will be away to a tough Bidco United in Thika and hope to harvest all three on the road. They are just a point above the red zone and a win will see them maintain a safe space from bottom placed Vihiga and Mathare.