Gor Mahia start title defence against Ulinzi at Nyayo

Charles Momanyi (L) of Gor Mahia FC tackle Claude Niyomugabo of APR FC of Rwanda during their CAF Champions League second leg match in Nairobi on December 05, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Record Kenyan champions Gor Mahia will hope to get their FKF-Premier League title defence off to a winning start when they clash with the unpredictable Ulinzi Stars at Nyayo Stadium today (3 pm).

This will be the first match of the season for both teams whose kick-off had been temporarily delayed due to their stand on the StarTimes broadcasting rights deal with the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

Fresh from the dramatic 3-1 (4-3 on aggregate) victory over Rwanda’s APR to qualify to the first round of the CAF Champions League, Gor Mahia are eager to maintain their robust start to a domestic league campaign.

While Gor assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo has outlined the importance of a positive result against the soldiers, he has urged his players to be prepared for a difficult duel.

“We are well prepared and ready for the match. We are focused and looking forward to starting the season on a high note. We are going for nothing short of a victory,” Odhiambo told Standard Sports.

“Why should we be worried about the Ulinzi Stars’ approach? Yes, every team that is playing in the topflight football deserves respect, but that doesn’t mean we are afraid or worried of them.”

But even as Ulinzi Stars coach Benjamin Nyangweso is glad to finally start the season, he feels Gor Mahia’s involvement in the Champions League has given them an upper hand ahead of the game.

“I think Gor Mahia have an advantage in terms of fitness because this will be their third match of the season. But we are motivated by the fact that it is always a difficult match when these two top teams meet and I expect the season opener not to be different,” said Nyangweso.

“This game has had a lot of changes that have somehow affected our preparation. But we are glad it is now on.”

Another highlight of the weekend will be today’s tie between joint-league leaders AFC Leopards and Sofapaka at Kasarani Stadium.

With both teams coming off quite impressive wins, Sofapaka coach John Baraza is prepared for a tantalising duel.

AFC Leopards saw off Bidco United 2-0 last weekend as Batoto Ba Mungu bounced back from their season opener defeat to Bandari to trounce Western Stima 3-1.

“With no doubt this a big clash and a crucial one for us as a club. We are facing a side that is equally challenging for the title so it won’t be a walk in the park,” said Baraza.

Meanwhile, Nairobi City Stars bounced back from 1-0 defeat to KCB to beat Bandari 2-0 yesterday at Kasarani Stadium.

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