What you need to know:
- With only four matches to the end of the season, Tusker lead the league log on 64 points, one above second-placed Gor
- While Matano is a schemer who instructs his charges to play attacking football and defend well, McKinstry has flattered to deceive if Gor's recent results are anything to go by
- The brewers will once again bank on evergreen midfielder Humprey Mieno, Jackson Macharia, Ugandan striker Deogratious Ojok and midfielder Michael Oduor
Tusker's epic clash with Gor Mahia, which has been billed as a potential Football Kenya Federation Premier League title decider, will mostly likely be decided by the tactical prowess of coach Robert Matano and his opposite number Irish tactician Johnathan McKinstry.
The two sides clash at Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday 3pm. With only four matches to the end of the season, Tusker lead the league log on 64 points, one above second-placed Gor.
A loss will complicate Gor's chances of reclaiming the league and playing continental football next season.
Since Tusker have what on paper seem to be three easy fixtures after Sunday's match, Gor have to beat the brewers then hope to bag maximum points in their other three remaining matches. This will ensure Gor end the season on top of Tusker with just a point.
After Sunday’s game, Tusker play Wazito, Posta Rangers and relegated Vihiga Bullets. On the other hand, Gor have Ulinzi Stars, Kakamega Homeboyz and Nairobi City Stars to contend with.
While Matano is a schemer who instructs his charges to play attacking football and defend well, McKinstry has flattered to deceive if Gor's recent results are anything to go by.
Matano has made key decisions in some of the big games this season which have saved his team from defeat. At Ulinzi Sports Complex on March 16 when Tusker were down 2-0, Matano went all out attack and Charles Momanyi scored in stoppage time to help them secure a 2-2 draw against Ulinzi Stars.
On April 5, when their clash against AFC Leopards seemed headed for a barren draw at Nyayo, Matano's tactical prowess played out again as Stewart Omondi scored at the death to give them a vital win over Ingwe.
Last weekend in the Mozzart Bet Cup semi-finals, Matano tactics also reigned supreme after he introduced Eric Otieno who went on to score in stoppage time as they beat Ulinzi Stars by a solitary goal.
Notably, it's also rare for Tusker to take the lead in tightly contested matches and lose. This was evident against Kenya Police, Kakamega Homeboyz, Kariobangi Sharks in the second leg where Tusker won 1-0 with the goals coming early in the first half.
In fact, Tusker face Gor having lost only once in 16 matches. Third-placed Nzoia Sugar is the last team to defeat Tusker on April 22 in the match that ended 1-0.
The brewers will once again bank on evergreen midfielder Humprey Mieno, Jackson Macharia, Ugandan striker Deogratious Ojok and midfielder Michael Oduor.
“We are motivated as we face Gor. It is a tough match but we are not ready to let the league slip us this time. We shall give the game our all,” said Ojok.
On the other hand, McKinstry, 37, has a number of times come under scrutiny from fans because of squad selection. His style of play which is considered to be more defensive has been badly exposed especially when top striker Benson Omala is man-marked by opposing defenders.
Without a solid midfield, Gor has found it difficult to win matches while fans seem to have lost faith in Omala, repeatedly calling for new signing, Ugandan striker Patrick Kaddu to be fielded.
McKinstry said: “We all know we need to bounce back. The players look determined to get a win against Tusker, they look re-energised after that derby defeat. We want to make things right and the focus has really been good.”
Gor Mahia will hope that the Green Army turns up in their numbers to cheer them to victory and take them closer to a record-breaking 20th league title.