Western Stima coach Paul Ogai will be counting on his midfield dominance when his side visit Ulinzi Stars in a Kenyan Premier League encounter at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru this afternoon.
Ogai, who will be chasing his seventh win of the season said a fully-functional midfield combination will be crucial in protecting the defenders and being a good supply line for the attackers.
Stima have had a glamorous start to the season after spending a year in the National Super League and are currently placed sixth with 19 points, a result which Ogai links to hard work and focus on details.
Statistics from the last six meetings between the two favour Ulinzi, who have won twice with the rest of the encounters ending evenly but Ogai isn’t worried of the past and the top flight experience of their opponents who will be looking to avenge their 3-1 loss to Kariobangi Sharks in their previous match.
The four-time champions have had a start to forget this season as they place 11th 13 points and will hope to bounce back to winning ways by putting off Stima.
“I believe we will get the three points should we control the midfield. Every game has it’s own strategy and I think a controlled midfield will be crucial. If it will be strong then our defending and going forward will be good. Ulinzi is a tough side with top flight experience but that is history. We are focusing on the three points,” said Ogai.
The powermen will miss the services of centre half Vincent Omumbo and winger Erastus Mwaniki through injury and lack of match fitness respectively. However, Ogai has tipped battle-hardened defender, Mukhisa Junior to fill Omumbo’s void.
“I will be without Omumbo who suffered an injury in our last match against Zoo Kericho and he is expected to be out for some weeks. He has been outstanding at the rear thanks to his experience but I believe Junior will be a good replacement. Mwaniki is not ready for the match as he has been struggling to regain his form but I believe he will hit his best soon.”
Meanwhile, Mt Kenya’s resurgence under Melis Medo will face a stern test today when they play returnees KCB at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos. Since the Egypt-born United States coach took over the club for the second time last month, Mt Kenya have found their winning formula, bagging maximum points against Mathare United and AFC Leopards.
The wins helped them move from the bottom of the log to 17th with nine points and will hope to rob an equally resurgent bankers side and gather more impetus in their quest to keep their top flight status.
On the other hand, KCB who are 12th with 12 points have also been impressive since the arrival of assistant coach, Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omolo.
2006 champions Sony Sugar will rely on home comfort for maximum points when they host Chemelil Sugar in a millers’ derby at the Green Stadium, Awendo. The venue has proved a tough hunting ground for visiting teams and Patrick Odhiambo’s charges will hope fortune will be on their side once again. Sony are ninth with 15 points while Chemelil are 16th with nine points.