Fans in Nakuru will be in for a football bonanza Saturday afternoon as heavyweights Gor Mahia and champions Tusker face off in a crunch SportPesa Premier League match at Afraha Stadium.
The two giants, who have had a contrasting start to the season, will renew their rivalry from 4.15pm, just moments after second placed Posta Rangers tackle newcomers Kariobangi Sharks from 2pm at the same venue.
The Gor-Tusker match had previously been set to be played in Naivasha, but was moved to the more spacious Afraha Stadium as a measure to guarantee safety to the large crowd expected to turn up for the game.
Revenge will be on the cards for Gor Mahia as they lost to the brewers 1-0 both home and away in the league last year in heated encounters. Memories of the first leg loss, which saw Gor Mahia fans invade the pitch costing the club three points, are still fresh.
K’Ogalo however eliminated Tusker from the Kenyan Premier League Top 8 semi-finals last season and also won their latest duel early this term after edging out the brewers 1-0 to clinch the KPL Super Cup.
But while the 15-time champions have recorded a brilliant start to the 2017 season that has seen them move to the summit of the standings, champions Tusker are still stuttering with only one win in five outings.
Under pressure Tusker coach George Nsimbe said he will treat the match cautiously.
“We have to handle Gor Mahia like the table leaders. That doesn’t mean that we fear them, but we will handle them with a little more seriousness,” said Nsimbe.
“The players are motivated. Everybody has been training very hard for the game because they know they will be facing a very strong team.”
Nsimbe will welcome captain James Situma back in the fold after the defender missed their previous clash against Ulinzi Stars due to suspension.
Gor Mahia coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira is extra motivated after bagging the Coach of the Month accolade for March on Wednesday morning.
The leaders could start this match in second place if Posta beat Sharks in the league’s early kick-off match. Posta are just a point behind Gor but face an improved Sharks side that has won their last two matches.
“Whatever happens, we have to win the game. That is our philosophy in every game. Tusker are out to prove a point against us so the players have to be at their best. We are however privileged to have faced them earlier this year so we know what to expect,” said Ferreira.
Meddie Kagere, scorer of the winning goals in their last two matches, is expected to partner Jacques Tuyisenge in attack as Ferreira fronts his 3-5-2 formation that has seen K’Ogalo collect 12 points out of a possible 15.
The Stewart Hall-led AFC Leopards will be in Thika to battle Thika United as 2010 champions Ulinzi Stars face Mathare United in Nakuru on Sunday.
Muhoroni Youth v Sony Sugar (Muhoroni, 3pm)
Nakumatt v Western Stima (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos, 3pm)
Sofapaka v Kakamega Homeboyz (Camp Toyoyo, 3pm)
Nzoia United v Zoo Kericho (Sudi Stadium, 3pm)
Posta Rangers v Kariobangi Sharks (Afraha Stadium, 2pm)
Gor Mahia v Tusker (Afraha Stadium, 4.15pm)
Thika United v AFC Leopards (Thika Stadium, 3pm)
Ulinzi Stars v Mathare United (Afraha, 3pm)