Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pre Match: Tusker (A)


There is something about Tusker. The last time Leopards beat Tusker in the Premier League was in 1998.

In the first leg this season, Tusker beat Leopards 2-0 in Mombasa.

And as if Leopards fans were not sick of Tusker, the Premier League has changed its name on the eve of this clash to the Tusker Premier League!

The Star writes:-

AFC Leopards coach Jan Koops is expecting a tough title run in as the Kenyan Premier League head into the home straight. With only eight matches remaining to determine the destiny of the title, Koops thinks that being at the top makes it difficult for them as all teams are hell bent on ensuring that they derail their quest.

Koops said he is, however, not giving the stage any specialised attention, only that they have intensified their training especially at this point as they prepare to face champions Tusker tomorrow. “We are training very hard but to do that does not guarantee that we will win (against Tusker),” said Koops.

“There are more things one needs to win the title—including discipline, focus and concentration.” He, however, said it will be irrational to put too much effort in the match against Tusker and then fall to the ‘smaller’ teams. The tactician said he will take a game at a time and approach all the remaining matches with the seriousness they deserve.

“They (players) also know that we have to win that game on Friday (tomorrow) if we are to keep our title hopes alive,” added Koops. “Tusker have a game in hand but we have 4 points ahead of them. But having a game in hand does not mean they will win,” said Koops of Tusker’s one match in hand. “It’s possible that they can win but we have the points. They have to ensure they win to close in on us although they will still be a point behind.”

Tusker are second to Leopards with 40 points against the leaders 44. “But winning against them (Tusker) will be a major boost and we hope that we will do it,” observed Koops. “The players know all these and they are focused as we seek to open a bigger margin.”

Speaking during the team’s training base at Moi Forces Academy, Koops admitted that Tusker will not be pushovers. “They will be seeking a repeat performance after beating Ingwe 2-0 in the first leg in Mombasa.

“Tusker have a very good team and I know it will be a tough game,” said Koops. He added that the return of wrangles at the club will not affect the player’s concentration since salaries and allowances are paid on time.

AFC Leopards might have lost their last Kenyan Premier League match against KCB FC, but central defender Eric Masika is optimistic that the KPL title is still theirs to lose. 

Leopards, who last won the league in 1998, are currently at the top of the table with 44 points – four ahead of their opponents on Friday, Tusker. 

According to the former Gor Mahia centre half, they are not concentrating on their opponents’ performance but instead aiming to bounce-back and take down the brewers. 

“We are focused on our next game – nothing else. The stiff competition is making us strong and at the end of the day it will be on our advantage,” he said. 

“To be a champion, you must play like a champion and beat other champions. At the moment, we are on top of the table and as leaders we cannot concentrate on our rivals’ results. They beat us in the first leg; it was a bitter pill to swallow. We have rectified the mistakes and I am confident my teammates we live up to the billing.” 

The Kenyan international further vowed not to disappoint the entire Ingwe fraternity. 

“This is our year and we are going to fight to the bitter end. We are not ready to disappoint our sponsors, management, coaches and fans – they have been there for us and we must reward them. The spirits are high and for sure the title is ours to lose.”

Daily Nation writes:-

This script is so thick with plots you would not cut it with a surgeon’s scalpel. League champions Tusker versus league leaders AFC Leopards, Friday at Nyayo Stadium from 7 pm.
Will this be the day that Leopards reaffirm their championship credentials against so formidable an opposition, or will the defending champions announce in emphatic fashion they are not ready yet to surrender the title?
Leopards lead the table with 44 points, four ahead of Tusker, who have a game in hand, and a dangerously rejuvenated Gor Mahia, who have ignited a fascinating title race with their meteoric charge.

Gor, after a lackluster start to the season, have stormed up the table hierarchy, inspired by the Croation magic of Zdravko Lugorusic and never-say-die hearts of the Green Army, to become serious contenders for the cup.
They beat former champions and title aspirants Ulinzi Stars 1-0 on Wednesday to show they did not just have wish but wherewithal to claim Kenya’s biggest club football crown.
AFC and Tusker will certainly give this some thought but not Friday.
Both coaches, Jan Koops of Leopards and Robert Matano of Tusker, perfunctorily talked about how this match was just like any other.

Yeah, right. Pressed further the real deal came out.
“We must beat Tusker to get further ahead of them. That is very important for us. The gap must be maintained,” Koop said.

“It is an important match. We are the defending champions and have every intention of fighting to remain so,” Matano, just two weeks old on the job said.
For the experienced Matano this could also be a revenge mission on his old club Leopards who kicked him out like a dog last season ostensibly over poor performance.
Matano is too civil to admit this offering: “I have no ill feelings towards Leopards. I just want to do the job for Tusker. My motivation and that of the team is to win the league.”

There is much more though. Tusker suckered AFC Leopards 2-0 in Mombasa in their first leg match on April 21 when the big cats were riding roughshod on the league with a wonderful 23–match unbeaten run stretching back to last season.
Leopards will certainly want to get back at the brewers.
The big cats are back at full strength following the return to fitness of their backline mainstay Jonas Nahimana and Eric Masika and influential midfielder Bernard Mangoli.
Koop has the option of fielding his productive forward line of internationals Allan Wanga and Mike Baraza, with 11 league goals between them, and former Tusker front runner Paul Were, who will relish a go at his old mates.
Matano also has all his squad available to him and it will be interesting to see whom he picks for his second league game with Tusker.

Dennis Mukaisi, Obadiah Ndege, Kenneth Wendo, Joseph Emeke and Patrick Kagogo will all look for an attacking start.
Leopards’ seven-match unbeaten run was unexpected ended 2-0 by KCB two weeks ago while Tusker have won just once in their last four games.
All that will not matter as both teams go for broke in a key tie that could very well determine the eventual league winner.

The reigning Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Tusker FC will on Friday 7 September be playing hosts to the league leaders AFC Leopards at the Nyayo National Stadium. The list of officials to oversee the game is out.

Isaac Ochieng, who hails from Nairobi will be that man at the centre in the tie and will be assisted by two ladies; Dorcas Wanza from Bungoma as the first assistant referee then Dorcas Moraa from Nakuru as the second assistant.

Fidelis Wekesa from Thika will serve as the reserve referee while Juma Kalume from Malindi will be the match commissar.

The match will kick off at 1900hrs and will be live on Supersport.

Meanwhile get yourself a copy of the latest Ingwe Fan magazine.

Simply send Kshs 300 to 0717 513 043 and it will be delivered to you.


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