Gor Mahia have collected six points, scored five goals and conceded none in their last two matches. Will that brilliant run continue? Fans will find out this Saturday as they take on newly promoted Nzoia United.
Having taken over the league lead, coach Ze Maria will want to hold on.
“I am proud of my players’ performance in the last two matches. Those two wins have been very important to us. Now that we are at the top, I am confident we will handle the pressure of being there. We want to remain there until the end of the season,” said Ze Maria to the Standard.
Will fatigue be a factor?
Playing three matches inside 6 days can take its toll on the players. The compressed schedule has been taking its toll on teams this season. Chemelil coach Abdalla Juma blames Wednesday’s loss to Kogalo on fatigue.
“This is a challenge. In fact it is very difficult both for us and for the players. We had a game just two days ago, and today we are playing again, it means that even if I wanted to use a different strategies for today’s match I can’t execute that successfully because of the little time we have I between games,” he said to the Nation.
And this is where coach Ze Maria and to a much larger extent trainer Sandro Fantino will earn their keep. They will need to closely monitor the physical state of each player. He may consider resting a player like Kagere who has already played over 180 minutes this week.
Nzoia United who won the second tier in 2016, have given a good account of themselves since earning promotion to the top tier. They beat Tusker in their first ever KPL match. Last Wednesday, they went down 2-1 to Bandari. In 2016, while in the second tier, they shocked Gor Mahia, thus eliminating them from the GoTV shield.
The match will be played at Mumias Sports complex on Saturday. According to Secretary General Ben Omondi, kickoff time is 3pm.
Down Memory Lane
Back in the 1980s, Nzoia Sugar, which is the precursor of Nzoia United, used to be one of the toughest opponents for Gor Mahia especially at home. Even as Gor Mahia won the league in 1983, 84, 85 and 87, they would beat other teams by significant margins. But Nzoia was always a tough nut to crack. This despite the fact that Nzoia almost always finished in the lower half of the 20 team league.
In those days Nzoia played their home matches at Kanduyi stadium in Bungoma. They had two formidable defenders in Leonard Khayota and Evans Chibinda who was built like tank. Matches pitting the two sides at Kanduyi almost always ended in 0-0 draws and in some cases a 1-0 win for Nzoia.
The radio announcer’s statement would sum up the frustration of the fans who had been listening intently to KBC radio.
“Waskilizaji, Gor wamefanya kazi ya ziada lakini bahati haikusimama. Nzoia wameshinda (listeners, Gor really tried, but were unlucky. Nzoia have won)”