Limping Gor Mahia face JKU in play-offs

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, July 13th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Given a chance, this is a match Gor Mahia would have wished not to play.

However, the Kenyan giants have no option but to face Jeshi la Kujenga Uchumi in the third place Cecafa Kagame Cup play-off at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam today.

The match will be followed by an all-Tanzanian final between holders Azam and Simba at the same venue. 

K'Ogalo will be meeting JKU for the second meeting in less than six weeks after they beat the Zanzibar side 2-0 in the SportPesa Super Cup in Nakuru.

Gor's hopes of ending their 33-year regional title drought were dashed on Wednesday evening when they lost 2-0 to Azam in the semifinals, while their former striker Meddie Kagere inspired Simba to a 1-0 victory over JKU.

And as a result of a busy season that came with congested fixtures including domestic league, CAF Confederations Cup, Kagame Cup and many other cup competitions, fatigue and injuries seem to have began taking toll on the record Kenyan champions.

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K'Ogalo's technical bench and medical team are trying to deal with their crippling injuries ahead on next Wednesday's crucial Confederations Cup match against visiting Yanga at Kasarani. 

Ernest Wendo (groin), Francis Kahata (knee) George Odhiambo (knock) have all been ruled out of today's encounter while the defensive duo of captain Harun Shakava (groin) and Joash Onyango (knock) remains doubtful.

Maybe the good news is that defender Wellington Ochieng and his Burundian counterpart Karim Nzigiyimana are nearing return from their long-term injuries. Both have resumed light training.

Though Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr doesn't want to admit it, the Briton has a set of injury problems that could hamper his selection options in today's encounter and the upcoming fixtures.

"Obviously playing eight games in 15 days is not a joke. We have played in many fixtures so much so we can't train and work on some things. Yes, the congested fixtures do have some effects," said Kerr.

"We are playing the third-place playoffs, which, if I had a choice, we wouldn't play, because we have Yanga coming to Nairobi next week. That is very important to us and we can't let Azam's defeat hurt our season. We have done so well this year to get where we are."

"It is unfortunate we got injuries here, but they are from contacts and collision, not fatigue. Kahata has had a knock and Wendo was injured in the previous game, but that is football.

"Football is tough and after too many fixtures, it's bound to take a toll on us. We have to think of how to motivate the players."

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