Form, goals, tactics and techniques will count for nothing on Sunday afternoon as two of Kenya’s greatest teams parade their finest teams to grace the second leg of this year’s Nairobi derby. And both tacticians go in the game knowing well that nothing short of victory will guarantee their fans satisfaction even as they polish various formations and tactics this week in preparation for the pressure cooker atmosphere expected at the Nyayo National stadium.
Ingwe’s bench will be lead by Veteran coach Robert Matano “The Lion” who has presided over more than half a dozen derbies at various times. He also boasts the rare distinction of having sat on the technical benches of both teams at different times. While his work ethic and military style discipline is not in doubt, his tactical
finesse and ability to read the game will be tested to the limits on Sunday. Matano is a coach who has little respect for lazy or indiscipline players and by now
any mutinous Leopard players must have learn either to toe his line or forever hold their peace.
On the opposite bench will be British coach Dylan Kerr. Though a first timer to the Nairobi derby, the British gaffer has been well briefed about the importance of this match. He has settled in fast and earned the respect of the backroom staff, players and the Green army. No doubt he has a clue about the adrenaline rush involved in this game. He may have won five games at K'ogalo but the Green army would be much happier if he tucked in this as well. This would complete his probation and assure his confirmation. On tactics, Dylan Kerr is a typical British coach. Expect no surprises. Gor will press the ball forward. Strikers will be under strictinstructions to shoot on sight and fire from all cylinders. His midfielders will run wide into spaces and fullbacks and wingers will lob balls left , right and center. To his credit he found the team playing in three units. Defenders, midfield and strikers. Now they are playing as one unit. That will be discernable to all keen soccer observers.
In the goalkeeping department both teams have equal depth. Boniface Oluoch packs international experience, confidence and finesse despite the intensity of competition brought in by rookie Peter Odhiambo’s fine run between the woodwork. Given the pressure of this game, Boniface will be a sure bet to make a comeback to today's game after warming the bench in four games. On the opposite end of the pitch will be Gabriel Adika and Ian Otieno, equally experienced keepers. Matano may prefer to hand Andika a start on this one as Ian has soaked in cricket scores in the last three encounters against K'ogalo and it may not be psychologically boosting to face the same strikers at this time.
The defenders are also on the scales. Matano may be tempted to borrow from Former Harambee stars coach Gardesevic Vojo and pack the bus. He may opt for Yakubu Rama and Marcus Abwao on the flanks. Harambee stars stalwart Robinson Kamura may be assigned to mark Medie Kagere. It is a role not many would envy. He will play along Abdallah Salim and Kibwage Mike. They must all defend well and take no chances when under pressure.
On the other end K'ogalo will let their guards down with a 3-5-2 formation which they have preferred in this campaign. Their defenders are oozing with class and confidence and this will be put to test.. Expect the usual suspects in key positions. Patrolling the right wing be Burundian Karim Nzigiyimana. He will ply the right wing with his usual robustness and to an extent I expect the game to be determined with how he wakes up. He has the stamina, technique and aggression
to destabilize any defence. On the opposite end rookie defender Wellington Ochieng will be on parade. Though a right footer, he has adopted to the left back slot like fish to water ever since he was handed his start. He covers the back well, entertains and he will leave the climbing experiments to lethal Uganda Cranes stalwart Godfrey Walusmbi who will play ahead of him. In front of him will be Harun “Shakes’ Shakava who is currently playing some of the best football in career. Fast, efficient , aggressive and dangerous when he goes up for set pieces, he will provide adequate cover to Harambee stars experienced defender Musa Mohamed who at only 27 has covered over a dozen derbies for Gor Mahia in a career spanning a decade.
The midfield is where the action will be won. Dylan Kerr has several tempting options. He could start with George Odhiambo Blackberry who could partner with highly the rated ball distributor Kenneth Muguna with Ernest Wendo plying the circle to ward off Ingwe’s attacking plots. If any doesn’t click then he could throw in Innocent Wafula, Mike Simiyu , Oliver Maloba and John “Softie” Ndirangu all quality players. Their plain instructions will be to push forward with an eye on goal. Blackberry is a big time player who likes to slice through defences like a hot knife through cheese and he will be hugely influential on the occasion. Upfront will be Gor’s Mahia’s duo of predatory Central African Strikers Meddie Kagere and Jacques Tuyisenge. Both are fast off the blocks. Meddie Kagere is more technical and has slaughtered the Leopard thrice while Jacques Tuyisenge is more clinical and invaluable at providing nuisance value to opponents. They duo will be expected to launch a blitzkrieg attack from the ground and in the air. If these don’t crack Ingwe who will?
Ingwe’s forte is its youthful set of players who run non stop for over 90 minutes . They also have a set of quality players in Harun Nyaka, Wyvonne Isuza and Duncan Otieno. To back them will be their highly technical players Allan Kateregga who is dangerous while roving on a free role and even more dangerous as a left winger. He is also good on the set piece. On the flanks will be speedy wingers Andrew Tolowa, and Vincent Oburu . Samuel Ndungu is another exciting players who will be looking to put the ball at the feet of Alexis Kitenge, Ingwe’s most expensive striker on whose shoulder the cats rely on for delivery. If Ingwe can pry open K'ogalo’s defence and score the first goal fans will be in for an afternoon of entertainment.
My bet is as good as yours.