NAIROBI, Kenya– With majority of the focus on the 88th Mashemeji Derby, the battle for the Kenya Premier League (KPL) top five and the relegation struggle intensifies heading into round 23 of matches.
Third place Tusker FC (43) have lost grip on their pursuit of the league leaders Gor Mahia FC in recent weeks, being held to draws by lowly Wazito FC and Kisumu All Stars FC and need to bounce back against Chemelil Sugar FC (9) on Saturday.
Robert Matano’s charges are four points off second place Kakamega Homeboyz FC (47), who are out of action this weekend, giving the brewers a chance to reduce the point difference between both clubs.
Kenya Commercial Bank FC (41) remain in fifth place despite losing three from their last five encounters and need to rediscover their winning formula when they take on Nzoia Sugar FC (12) on Saturday.
Anything less than three points for Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno’s side could see them drop out of the KPL top five and dent their aspirations of a top three finish in the 2019/20 KPL season, their first under the former Kenyan international.
A place above KCB lies Ulinzi Stars FC (42), who are unbeaten in their last three and have only lost twice the entire season, joint-best record with Tusker.
The soldiers have a tricky test against a 13th place Wazito (19) who are currently on their best run of form the entire season, having not lost a match in ther last four outings.
The 2019 SportPesa Cup winners Kariobangi Sharks FC (20) have had by far their worst campaign since being promoted to the top flight three seasons ago and are currently in 12th place.
On Saturday, William Muluya leads his team against Bandari FC (29) in a repeat of the final in Dar es Salaam, where a Harrison Mwendwa goal was the difference between the two sides.
Bandari have been injected with a shot of life since prodigal son Ken Odhiambo returned to coach the side and the change has seen the dockers go on a five-match unbeaten streak while collecting maximum points from their last three.
League action begins on Friday afternoon as Zoo FC (15) host Sofapaka FC (30) at the Kericho Green Stadium at 3pm.
Mathare United FC (30) will be seeking to bounce back to winning ways when they take on basement club Kisumu All Stars FC (9) on Saturday afternoon at the Kasarani Stadium.
The slum boys have only managed one win in their last five, a 3-1 drubbing of Zoo on February 8, and could finish the weekend as low as 11th if they cannot grind out a win against the newcomers.
KPL ROUND 23 FIXTURES (All matches kick off at 3pm unless stated)
Zoo FC vs Sofapaka FC
Bandari FC vs Kariobangi Sharks FC -2pm
Mathare United FC vs Kisumu All Stars
Nzoia Sugar FC vs KCB FC
Tusker FC vs Chemelil Sugar FC
Wazito FC vs Ulinzi Stars FC
Western Stima FC vs Posta Rangers
AFC Leopards SC vs Gor Mahia FC