Tusker on course

Pres­sure on Ze Maria as Gor Mahia tackle Western Stima to­mor­row

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports Local - FRAN­CIS WADEGU @fwadegu198

The 2016 SportPesa Pre­mier League ti­tle is surely now Tusker’s to lose af­ter the league lead­ers grabbed an im­por­tant three points from a tricky away fix­ture against Ban­dari to open up a seven-point gap at the top al­beit hav­ing played a game more than their sole ri­vals Gor Mahia.

Stephen Owusu’s late header not only gave Paul Nkata’s men a nar­row 1-0 vic­tory but also boosted their psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage head­ing to­wards the crys­tal stage of the cham­pi­onship marathon.

Af­ter 26 matches, Tusker have 51 points while Gor, who face Western Stima to­mor­row have 44 from 25 matches. Gor will be down in terms of morale hav­ing al­ready re­lin­quished two of the tro­phies they won last year; the sea­son open­ing DStv Su­per Cup and the KPL Top 8 ti­tle that they con­ceded to Muhoroni Youth on Sun­day.

The pres­sure is surely on for coach Ze Maria, who has never re­ally been a dar­ling of the crowds and the man­ner in which their fol­low­ers de­scended onto the pitch run­ning at the play­ers goes a long away to show the sim­mer­ing frus­tra­tion in the stands is fi­nally boil­ing over.

Af­ter the Stima match, Gor will have to con­tend with a tough tie against arch-ri­vals AFC Leop­ards this weekend. Leop­ards, who put paid to fifth placed Ulinzi Stars ti­tle ambi­tions, will be more keen to end any as­pi­ra­tions their arch ri­vals have of win­ning an un­prece­dented fourth suc­ces­sive top flight ti­tle.

Chemelil Sugar re­main with an out­side chance of claim­ing the ti­tle af­ter Jared Ob­woge scored a brace to en­sure they main­tained their third po­si­tion on the ta­ble.

Ob­woge opened his ac­count in the 14th minute af­ter mak­ing the most of poor or­gan­i­sa­tion from the Ushuru de­fence and he fin­ished off with an­other bril­liant goal seven min­utes later.

The tax men pulled a goal back in the 71st minute through ever im­prov­ing Ebrimma San­neh, who rose high to head the ball past Chemelil goal­keeper Sa­muel Od­hi­ambo. Chemelil have 43 points.

At the other end of the ta­ble, the over ten-year ex­is­tence of Nairobi City Stars in the Pre­mier League may soon come to an end af­ter they suc­cumbed to their 15th loss of the sea­son, a dis­heart­en­ing re­sult for a team that has fought against rel­e­ga­tion through­out the sea­son.

John Am­boko was the vil­lain of the match for City as he han­dled the ball in­side the box, prompt­ing the ref­eree to award Thika the penalty which was duly con­verted by cap­tain Den­nis Od­hambo min­utes to the end.

Base­ment club So­fapka are also head­ing out of the top di­vi­sion fol­low­ing their 1-0 loss to Sony Sugar.

Ushuru cap­tain Nel­son Mara­chowe tack­les Chemelil ‘s Vic­tor Ma­jid dur­ing their SPL match. / ENOS TECHE

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