Leaders Tusker put their unbeaten run on the line at Chemelil

Friday March 18 2011

Mohammed Amin / NATION Tusker’s George Midenyo celebrates scoring against Mathare United during their Premier League match at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday. Tusker won 2-1.

Mohammed Amin / NATION Tusker’s George Midenyo celebrates scoring against Mathare United during their Premier League match at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday. Tusker won 2-1. 

By Odindo Ayieko [email protected]

Tusker’s unbeaten run comes under serious test on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Chemelil.

Chemelil Sugar coach Nick Yakhama has vowed to remove the lid off Tusker bottle and end their three match winning streak that has put the Ruaraka brewers at the top of the Kenyan Premier League table.

Yakhama says the worst his side, beaten 2-1 by Sony Sugar last weekend will be a draw, but a win is imminent.

“Let them know that we want to have a sip of the beer and celebrate,” Yakhama joked.

Tusker has already beaten AFC Leopards and Mathare United in Nairobi and gone to Mombasa and come off with three points from Congo United, but the trip to the sugarbelt may pose the biggest hurdle for the 2007 champions who are seeking their ninth title this year after finishing third last season, a performance that cost coach James Nandwa his job.

Five point gap

Until mid last season, Tusker looked like they were going home with the title, they had opened a five point gap, but they started fumbling as the second leg started and eventually were out of the race with over five games to go.

Their start this season, especially after they were humbled out of the Top 8 tournament by Western Stima is raising doubts on whether they can go all the way.

But coach Sammy Omollo says Tusker are no pace setters this season.

“We want to continue winning and maintaining the lead. We are thirsty for success,” he said.

Victory in Chemelil will be a big coup for Tusker, the grounds are the worst hunting grounds in the league given its bumpy nature.

Omollo may still be without his top goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, injured two weeks ago during the Top 8 clash but new recruit Duncan Ochieng may still come in handy. Dennis Mukaisi and George Midenyo will be relied for goals against the rugged Chemelil defence.

Touch challenges

The bulk of the league action will be on Sunday with Gor Mahia followers, excited at reports that dairy milk company Tuzo will be splashing Sh 15 million to their club expecting to jam the City Stadium when they host western Stima.

Stima has given Gor Mahia some tough challenges over the last two years, they collected a point in Nairobi last season and coach Zedekiah Otieno knows the green army of K’Ogalo at the terraces will not be amused if their side drops any more point especially after the one all stalemate in Karuturi last Sunday.

Pressure mounting

Otieno has asked fans to be patient with striker Ezekiel Odera who is yet to score a goal in the league and with pressure mounting for him to prove himself, Odera might find himself starting from the bench making way for Edwin Lavatsa, the 19 year old plucked from Upper Hill School.

Lavatsa is seen as the heir to the throne left by George “Blackberry” Odhiambo while Odera may yet be used later as a supportive strike.

Stima come to Nairobi without their top striker Kevin Oluoch who is out injured but Fred Nyarombo and veteran Francis Chinjili will definitely give the Gor backline some tough moments.

At the Mumias Complex, AFC Leopards, fresh from silencing Ulinzi Stars last weekend host Karuturi Sports hoping to continue their winning form.

Coach Matano is however worried about the fitness of midfield kingpin Nick Muoyo who looked troubled by his knee against Ulinzi while last weekend’s scorer Evans Wandera is serving a one match suspension.

But Hugo Nangu and Dimonde Selenge are fit to start while Martin Imbalabala may be recalled to help the defence.

Winning ways

Thika United take on Kenya Commercial Bank hoping to return to winning ways after dropping three points in their 2-1 loss to Western Stima.

At the Nyayo Stadium, Mathare United who have already lost twice come face to face with Rangers FC. Mathare are favourites, but they will be wary of Rangers, conquerors of Gor Mahia on the opening day of the league.