Kenya: Tusker, Gor Mahia Renew Hostilites in League Title Race

Just days after clinching slots in next season's Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup, leaders Tusker and reigning champions Gor Mahia clash in a Football Kenya Federation Premier League match on Thursday at Ruaraka grounds.

While Tusker qualified for the Caf Champions League by virtue of leading the log on June 30 as per FKF's communique, Gor edged out arch rivals AFC Leopards last weekend in the FKF Betway Cup final to earn a ticket to the less prestigious Caf Confederation Cup

Tusker are top with 47 points, while K'Ogalo are fourth on the log on 39 points, with both teams having played 22 matches.

On Friday, third-placed AFC Leopards will host struggling Bandari at Thika stadium, while relegation threatened Vihiga United will be at home to moneybags Wazito at Nakuru ASK Showgrounds.

With the contiental slots already decided, there is the small matter of claiming the league title and both Tusker and Gor are all too aware of the importance of three points in this fixture.

K'Ogalo will be out to avenge their first leg 2-1 loss on December 16 as they also look to close the gap on the brewers.

Gor Mahia captain Harun Shakava has rallied his teammates to go for a win as they bid to retain their title. The 28-year-old defender says the league is still important even after the Caf slot was handed to Tusker.

"Winning the league will also add to the number of titles we have and we take the remaining matches with a lot of seriousness. All top teams now are not only focusing on the monetary aspect, but also bragging rights," Shakava told Nation Sport.

Gor had a good run in the league and were unbeaten in eight consecutive matches, but lost ground in the title race after losing to Western Stima 2-1 on June 26 and playing out a barren draw against Wazito on June 30.

On the other hand, Tusker's teenage striker and the club's leading goal scorer, Henry Meja says wininng the league will be proof that the team didn't earn the Caf slot by mere luck.

"We have to keep the winning momentum and widen the gap on top. This game comes at a time when both teams are rejuvenated after qualifying for continental matches," said Meja, who has scored nine goals in the league.

Leopard's assistant coach Tom Juma has also called on his players to put behind the Cup defeat to Gor and beat Bandari as they look to end their 22-year league drought.

"The only remaining contention for us is to win the league though it doesn't come with a lot of prestige of qualifying for Caf. We lost against Gor Mahia but that is behind us as we look to win the remaining matches," Juma told Nation Sport.

Bandari have not won in their last two matches, having drawn against Gor Mahia and league returnees Nairobi City Stars.

Leopards are third on the log on 40 points, while Bandari are sixth on 33 points after 22 rounds of matches. Vihiga will be looking for their fourth win of the season, which will take them out of the relegation zone.

FIXTURES

THURSDAY

Tusker v Gor Mahia Ruaraka 3.15pm

FRIDAY

AFC Leopards v Bandari Thika Stadium 3.15pm

Vihiga United v Wazito ASK Grounds Nakuru 3.00pm

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