Burundian international, Karim Nizigiyimana, was a mainstay in Gor Mahia’s all-conquering side last season as the reigning Kenyan Premier League champions challenged for titles at both the domestic and regional front.
A rock in his preferred right-back position and even a better asset upfront, the former Rayon Sport and AS Vita defender was part of a consistent back four that kept 19 cleansheets and conceded only 12 goals in 30 league games last season.
Nizigiyimana also finished with a season-high 14 assists and was rightly crowned the KPL defender of the year during the season-ending awards.
However, the 26-year-old has endured an indifferent start to the 2016 season, one akin to his club, Gor Mahia.
On the bench
Nizigiyimana was benched in the 0-0 draw against Ulinzi Stars, only coming on following Bernard Odhiambo’s injury but he never featured in the 1-0 defeat to AFC Leopards in the Mashemeji Derby this past weekend.
Gor Mahia had chances to kill off the game early but wasted opportunities that, last season, would have easily been tucked home by either of Michael Olunga and Meddie Kagere.
Nizigiyimana admitted what everyone already knows; the club is laboring to find rhythm in the absence of the duo.
He said, “We know we lost two big players at the close of the season and you can see we are struggling to replace them.
“Olunga went to Sweden (IF Djurgarden) which was a good move for him and Gor Mahia could really not do anything on that as he was obviously offered more money.
“The issue of Kagere was strange though. I am sure the club could have negotiated for his stay and I think it was a mistake letting him go.”
Olunga, Kagere and Ali Abondo scored 43 of the 60 league goals Kogalo put past the opposition last season but all the three have left the club.
In their absence, Kogalo have scored only once in their last four league matches and lost for the first time in 35 league games against Leopards, a result that perhaps played a big part in coach Frank Nuttall leaving for an understudy role in Egypt. < Steifmaster >
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