Archives for posts with tag: Kenya Premier League

A slick Gor Mahia outclassed their rivals at the Kasarani Stadium on Saturday, coming away with a win that gives K’ogalo the edge in what is hotting up to be one of the closest Tusker Premier League title races in recent years.

Both sides are the Tusker Premier League, formally Kenyan Premier League’s, most successful teams having won the competition twenty four times between them.

Gor Mahia’s Croatian coach, Zdravko Logarusic went for his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing for a large degree of positional rotation of the attacking front four. Anthony Akumu and Ali Abondo were the two chosen to provide a defensive screen in front of the back-line.

AFC Leopards boss Jan Koops opted for a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with strikers Alan Wanga and Mike Baraza leading the line and Martin Imbalambala sat off Floribert Ndayisaba as the sides defensive anchor. Centre backs Jonas and Masika were given the unenviable task of marking the leagues in-form front strikers; Rama Salim and Dan Sserunkuma.

K’ogalo’s interchanging front four

Gor Mahia are a side brimming with confidence, and this was evident in their approach to the first half. They moved the ball from their own defensive third with a degree of fluidity and assurance that Ingwe could not match. K’ogalo were helped by the energetic duo of Anthony Akumu and Ali Abondo taking up positive positions, in pockets of space, that allowed K’ogalo to effectively play the ball, on the ground, out of their half.

Once the ball had been transferred into the AFC Leopards half, they were faced with K’ogalo’s lethal front four who’s movement and high tempo interchanging caused havoc in the Ingwe defence. Omondi, Salim, Odhimabo and Sserunkuma all rotated their positions in the first half and Ingwe never seemed to grasp how best to track their movement on and off the ball. AFC Leopards problems were two fold; 1) They simply gave Gor Mahia’s front four far too much room in the attacking third and should have got much tighter on their markers. As a unit they should have also been looking to stay much more compact to prevent them from moving the ball around the edge of the penalty area with such ease, 2) Martin Imbalambala had a surprisingly poor first half display and gave Rama Salim too much time and space to operate around the penalty area.

(See diagram 1 showing the interchanging positions of Gor Mahia’s front four)

The greater confidence of the Gor Mahia players was evident when they were in 1v1 situations, as they were willing and able to effectively beat AFC Leopards defenders who were sluggish to close them down in the first half.

Another feature of the first half was how advanced the starting position of Gor Mahia’s wingers were in the transition. This allowed K’ogalo to get the ball into advanced wide areas, 1v1 situations, and run at Ingwe’s defense. Jan Koops would likely have been disappointed with how deep Mongoli and Okwembe were when his side regained possession, coupled with the flat performance of Ndayisaba in central midfield, left Wanga and Baraza as isolated figures upfront.

Without the ball Gor Mahia’s defence was well organised, patient and alert, which is what you’d expect from a side that have only conceded four goals in the second leg of the Tusker Premier League.

Ingwe switch their system

Jan Koops responded to his sides poor showing in the first half by altering his sides system early in the second half. On the forty seventh minute Paul Were was brought on for the ineffective Floribert Ndayisaba. Ingwe switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, mirroring K’ogalo’s shape, with Were on the right, Okwambo cutting in from the left and Wanga playing off Baraza.

The change made sense so far as Ingwe needed to get their wingers into move advanced areas to support the two front men and the introduction of the pacy Paul Were lifted AFC Leopards attack by giving them more penetration down the right.

Ten minutes later the system switch had the desired effect, Wanga dropped off the back four and fed a cute reverse pass for Mike Baraza to latch onto and drive a shot across Onyango and into the far corner of the goal.

(See diagram 2 showing AFC Leopards attacking re-shuffle in the second half)

Logarusic immediately instructed Anthony Akumu to drop off Ali Abondo and become the sides deepest central midfielder and combat the influence of Wanga. The move worked, stifling the space that Wanga had earlier found. Gor Mahia held out to clinch the most important victory of their season and take a step closer to becoming to most successful domestic sides in Kenyan football history.

A wasteful Mathare United remain in the bottom half of the Kenya Premier League (KPL) after goals from Moses Arita and a stunning Francis Kahata strike rewarded Thika United with all three points at the Nyayo Stadium on Friday’s.

Thika United coach, John Kamau, stuck with his sides’ tried and tested 4-3-3 formation; with Joseph Kuria and Michael Luvutsi anchoring the more creative Francis Kahata in midfield. Kamau was disappointed to be without the services of his latest acquisitions; Haji Mwachoki and Wycliffe Opondo, both having failed to be registered to Thika United in time for the game.

Following their 3-1 win over Karuturi Sports, Mathare Utd’s coach, Stanley Okumbi, kept his sides’ favoured 4-4-2 formation; with influential striker Francis Ouma leading the line alongside Andrew Tololwa. In midfield, Dennis Nzomo, returned to the side after his recent outing with Kenya’s Harambee Stars.

The ‘Slum Boys’ find space in wide areas

Thika’s use of a narrow midfield three gave them a numerical advantage in the centre but surrendered space to Mathare on the flanks. This was a bold move by John Kamau, particularly when dealing with one of the KPL’s most effective target men, Francis Ouma.

With fifteen minutes gone his gamble seemed to be backfiring. Mathare were dominant in possession and had created four clear goal-scoring opportunities. Thika’s defensive midfielder, Michael Luvutsi, was struggling to track Ouma movement off the ball, with the striker making dangerous runs between Thika’s midfield and defensive lines. Luvutsi’s positioning was intended to provide Thika with an option to play the ball out of defense, into the feet of Kahata and Kuria, but with Andrew Tololwa tracking the runs of the midfielder, Michael Luvutsi had a difficult opening to the game; in and out of possession.

But on eighteen minutes it was Thika that took advantage of space on Mathare’s left flank to take a shock lead. A sloppy recovery run from Mathare defender, Mwangi, and a quick combination breakaway from Thika’s right back, Chitayi, left Kimani out of position and led to him conceding a penalty, after handling the ball inside the penalty area.

Despite conceding the first goal, Mathare’s enthusiasm to utilise the space on the flanks continued. Kuria and Kahata were only ever prepared to show the Thika fullbacks and wingers down the line, and Mulbah and Miheso barely tracked back behind the halfway line. Notwithstanding this good intent, Mathare’s Ouma, Tololwa and Jesse were all guilty of missing good chances in the first half.

Failure to pickup Kahata

In the second half, as Thika began to enjoy more possession, and an interesting pattern of movement began to provide their influential playmaker, Francis Kahata, with time and space on the ball.

Mathare – now chasing the game – tried to apply more pressure on Thika when they had the ball in deeper areas. Ouma and Tololwa pressed Thika’s central defenders, and Dennis Nzomo stepped out from central midfield to deny Luvutsi time to turn and play the ball out of the defensive third. However, Mathare’s Nzomo was covering a greater distance, than Tololwa did in the first half, to close down Luvutsi, which left the Thika midfielder with time to turn and pick out forward passes.

But pressing Thika in this way left Mathare exposed, themselves, in central midfield. With Nzomo pushed up, marking Luvutsi, Nduro was posed with a difficult choice, ‘Do I go tight on Kuria or Kahata?’ He did neither, shifting into a more central position, gifting both opponents time to select a pass. On the left side, Kahata was helped by the marauding runs of Bogere and Milheso, which kept Mathare’s Jesse Were and Buki occupied and allowed Kahata to dictate the tempo of Thika’s attacks.

It also facilitated Thika United second goal; with Kahata allowed to run, almost unopposed, into the attacking third, the Kenya youth international promptly rifling his shot into the far right hand corner of the net.

Thika switch to 4-5-1 

John Kamau, shifted his side’s formation to a more solid and well balanced 4-5-1, soon after Kahata’s goal.

Miheso and Mulbah were moved back into deeper, wider, areas off the ball, leaving Kahata and Mulbah to provide supporting options in the transition.

It was an intelligent move by Kamau. Luvutsi’s starting position was slight deeper than the first half, allowing him to shut down the space available to Tololwa and Ouma. But the move killed the game as a spectacle and despite a 68th minute goal from Tololwa, the Slum Bloys succumbed to another crucial home defeat.