Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pre Match: Gor Mahia (A)

The 69th League meeting between Gor Mahia and Leopards takes place today and most of the online and print media have focused on the clash.

The Nation leads with an article by Sammy Kitula where he writes:-

The wait is finally over! At the capacity 35, 000 Nyayo national Stadium, the two Kenyan Premier League giants - Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards ‘Ingwe’- will do battle, in what promises to be another fiercely contested encounter as the city comes to a complete standstill for the country’s most anticipated derby.

Tale of the game: The recent history of meetings between these two sides tell it all.

Gor Mahia, last year’s league runners-up, have made a flying start to the season, scoring 13 goals in their 15 league matches and will go into the match as favourites. Together with table-topping Tusker and Western Stima, K’Ogalo have the best defence in the country so far, having conceded only nine goals into the second leg of the season.

The side has also maintained a clean sheet of 540 minutes so far.

On their part, Leopards are hoping to exorcise the ghosts that have been undermining them over the recent past. Bar that 2-1 win over Thika United, Leopards had gone six matches without a win, losing five times, four on the trot.

Touchline duel: Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno v Ian Koops: With a rich club history at their respective teams, both Otieno and Koops know only too well that they will be judged, over a very long time, by today’s results and must employ every tactic if only for the three vital points

They have not had so much time of knowing each other, as Koops joined the Leopards two weeks ago, but Ingwe’s re-emergence could see hostilities initiated.

Zico has the upper hand having guided United to a convincing Champions League semi-final victory last season, so Koops will be out for revenge. (Copy & Paste alert ?????)

Tactical battle: Gor defeated AFC Leopards 1-0 during their last meeting at the same venue last October with their rapier counter-attacks, but the key component in that tactic - George “Blackberry” Odhiambo - has moved on.

K’Ogalo no longer possess such electric pace and Leopards should be more capable of containing the 1987 Mandela Cup champions.

The home side’s challenge will be to nullify the threat posed by Leopards’ forward Mike Barasa. The Harambee Stars striker has been on fire, scoring stunning winners including that dazzling goal against Thika United.

Key clashes: Solomon Nasio v Mike Barasa: Gor defender Nasio has returned from injury, but the former Dandora Youth player is yet to show that he has overcome his confidence-draining encounter with Congo United’s Rama Salim in May. Recent injuries have also left a question mark.

The mercurial Barasa will roam around Gor’s vast spaces and leave Nasio looking for a man to mark, but when he attacks the penalty area, the defender must deal with the danger.

Collins “Gattuso” Okoth v Charles Okwemba: Okoth has always thrived against Leopards and Zico often recalls his successful battles against bigger boys. Okwemba will pose a different test, but “Gattuso” has emerged as Gor’s key midfielder.

His energy, ability to break up opposition attacks and sensible use of possession mark him out as one of the first names on the Gor team-sheet.

Okwemba has grown in stature in recent months however, and he will relish his battle against the stout Gor midfielder.

Demonde Selenga v Francis Chinjili: Chinjili has yet to win over the Leopards supporters after arriving at the lair, but Selenga is already a cult figure at Gor just three games into his K’Ogalo career.

The Congolese’s attacking instincts offer Gor an option and he will pose a stern test for his markers. The former Western Stima striker has no better opportunity to silence his critics, however.

What they are saying: Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno: The character of the teams has changed since over the years and we expect a good match. It is important for us to win tomorrow (today) and maintain the pressure.

Ian Koops: I am happy to go there because it is the first big, big test. You want always to have a high level of confidence when you go to against Gor Mahia.

The Star carries the Carol Radull prediction of a 2-2 draw

My Prediction: Gor 2—2 Leopards

THERE are no statistics that would make much sense for this game simply because it’s the only realistic derby in Kenya. Yes we’ve recently forced Sugar derbys; western derbys; disciplined forces derby (when Red Berets was in the league); even the Coastal derby. But the truth is, in terms of hype, rivalry, achievements and location; there is only one derby in Kenya, and this is it!

Both clubs have won the league title 12 times, both clubs have had continental success at Cecafa over the years, both clubs have numerous passionate and loyal fans; but both clubs have had little to show in terms of league success over the past 12 years or so. Gor last won the league in 1995 while AFC last got the honours in 1998.

Gor, however, came close last season with a second finish and I believe it’s just a matter of time before K’ogalo win the league again. AFC has struggled a lot more in recent times; infact since their relegation at the end of 2006, and the subsequent one year of no football, the team hasn’t quite found its footing.

The numerous change in coaches and players over the years has caused more confusion than anything else. But in June the club bought some pretty great players in John Baraza, Francis Chinjili, Charles Okwemba and the likes; and recently added and then promoted Coach Jans Koops on the technical bench. Koops is apparently introducing the Dutch style of flowing and possesion football to the club, and we’re likely to see a lot of that in this match. Meanwhile Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno’s squad looks confident.

His old players coupled with the new recruits like Haji Mwachoki and of course Dimonde Selenga; who mind you scored against Gor when he was at AFC last year; are beginning to gel. How will Dimonde be viewed by AFC fans? And how will Gor fans view old boy Jimmy Bagaye? There’s only one way to find out and that is to be at the Nyayo Stadium tomorrow. Tickets are on sale at 20th and Kenya Cinema’s; City and Nyayo Stadium and various other outlets. Just Sh500 for VIP and Sh200 for the terraces. No tickets will be on sale tomorrow so buy your tickets today or watch yours truly live on TV tomorrow. I do urge those of you who will turn up at the stadium to behave. Let’s show that our league has matured by behaving in a major manner and do send me your non offensive predictions and comments to @CarolRadull on twitter.

Supersport has two articles by James Wokabi

Gor Mahia has selected an ultra attacking squad for their clash against archrivals AFC Leopards at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.

Wycliffe Ochomo, Hajj Mwachoki and Edwin Lavatsa will lead the search for goals a bold 4-3-3 formation.

In midfield Collins Okoth will partner with youngster Moses Otieno Odhiambo and Kevin Omondi.

Goalkeeper Frederick Jerim Onyango starts in goal with Solomon Nasio at right back while Collins Omondi will do duty at leftback. Musa Mohammed and Eric Masika will be in central defence.

The only surprise omission is regular Anthony Akumu who starts on the bench as does for Leopards striker Demonde Selenga.

AFC Leopards have kept faith with the squad that did duty against Thika United last weekend.

Barnabas Tiema will be in goal, with Edwin Baraza, Collins Kisuya, John Amboiko and Jonas Nahimana in defence.

Skipper Nicholas Muyoti will anchor things in midfield partnered by Bernard Mangoli and Charles Okwemba.

Upfront, Francis Chinjilio, Jimmy Bagaye and Mike Barza will lead the hunt for goals.

The match kicks off at 3pm

Gor Mahia line up:

1. Frederick Onyango, 19. Solomon Nasio, 27. Collins Omondi, 5. Musa Mohammed, 15. Eric Masika, 13. Collins Okoth, 14. Kevin Omondi, 30. Moses Otieno Odhiambo, 9. Edwin Lavatsa, 21.Wycliff Ochomo, 7. Hajj Mwachoki.

Reserves: 16. Ronnie Kagunzi, Gk; 6. Anthony Akumu, 3.Christopher Wekesa, 17. Dan Makori, 24. Demonde Selenga, 8. Tony Onyango, 25. Moses Odhiambo.

Coach - Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno

AFC Leopards line up:

19. Barnabas Tiema: 5. Edwin Wafula, 24. Collins Kisuya, 3. Jonas Amboko, 17. Jonas Nahimana, 6. Nicholas Muyoti, 22. Bernard Mang’oli 10. Charles Okwemba, 15. Francis Chinjili, 50. Jimmy Bageya, 11. Mike Baraza

Reserves: 1. Patrick Matasi, Gk, 4. Martin Imbalambala, 7. Brian Masiolo, 18. Salim Kinje, (29. Paul Odhiambo, 27. Oscar Kadenge

Coach: Jan Koops

Supersport has an extra article on the best six clashes, though unlike Ingwe Fan magazine, it doesnt confine itself to League matches but mixes other tournaments.
The Standard's Robin Toskin serves the follwing:-

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards face off in the KPL's oldest Derby, each weighed down with contrasting problems on the table of coaches Zedekiah Otieno and Jan Koops.

While Gor Mahia have scored only two goals in their last five matches, gaining nine points, AFC Leopards have hit the back of the net five times but all that has yielded a paltry three points.

The statistic provides for a compelling case for both coaches to apply appropriate tactics that would payback to their adherents, but which do not put their jobs at risk.

Not that Gor’s Otieno is under threat or Leopards’ septuagenarian Koops, but that nothing is ever guaranteed for the occupants of both teams’ technical benches.

Koops has unenviable task of plugging an AFC Leopards leaky defence that has conceded 19 goals so far, in a 4-5-1 formation he came up with to accommodate Ingwe’s expensive forward line of Mike Baraza, Francis Chinjili and Jimmy Bagaye.

On the other hand, Gor Mahia’s defence is the most trusted department, having conceded only nine goals so far, but their embarrassing wealth of strikers have had poor returns in front of goal.

While Congo-born Burundian Jonas Nahimana and returnee Collins Kisuya have looked promising in defence, the same cannot be said of the other.

Leopards’ Achilles Heel has been the centre-back channel.

The two first choice centre-backs Nahimana and John Amboko both started their careers at Leopards as fullbacks, but have since been moved to central roles with Edwin Wafula stepping up to the right and Kisuya to the left.

Thanks in part to the chaos in Leopards technical bench, Martin Imbalambala cannot say with certainty he has found a home in Ingwe’s den.

The youngster has shuttled between the central hole and defensive midfield, but without the relative success of the experience utility captain Nicholas Muyoti who has played the same role.

Gor Mahia, however, have no such problems in defence with Musa Mohamed, Solomon Nasio, Edwin Masika (Kandanda Award winner for May), Collins Omondi and Christopher Wekesa fitting in seamlessly.

But where things will happen is the engine room, the midfield. Gor Mahia’s Otieno will be tempted to play three hard men in the middle namely; Collins ‘Gatusso’ Okoth, Anthony Akumu and Moses Otieno Odhiambo.

The three are ball winners, but Otieno has an eye for the pass, but not in the proportions of Leopards’ Charles Okwemba.

Koops, however, might want to take advantage of Gor Mahia’s convoluted midfield of less mobile players by introducing Bernard Mang’oli who has scored two goals in two matches, with Baraza and Bageya all hinged on Okwemba who could play slightly in front of Muyoti.

Gor Mahia could be tempted to go for 4-3-1-2 formation especially as they lack natural wingers although both Moses Odhiambo (No 25) and Dan Makori can fit the description.

In the event of this, then Edwin Lavatsa and Makori could be used as attackers with the latter drifting in from wide left.

Odhiambo, who is establishing himself as Gor Mahia’s de facto free kick taker may then drop slightly ahead of the younger Odhiambo Otieno.

Former AFC Leopards reject Demonde Selenga could then be introduced in the second half to settle scores over the manner he was sacked by Ingwe.

In other media, MichezoAfrika has good articles on the game as does Futaa which also has previews. Pharis Kimaru speaks about Lionel Messi.

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