Kimanzi confident of survival, Ssimbwa staying focused
Despite dropping two points against Sofapaka FC on Wednesday, Mathare United coach Francis Kimanzi is comfortable with the spirit of his charges, saying they are confident of a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) place in the 2018 season.
Kimanzi had asserted his side would go for maximum points in their last four outings after failing to leap out of the relegation zone within 30 rounds, but Sofapaka proved difficult to overcome.
The 0-0 stalemate meant the Slum Boys (15) are no better than Thika United, who triumphed over Sony Sugar 1-0 to tie at 32, but Kimanzi is unperturbed.
“There is no panic, why panic when we have a very composed youthful team? I cannot give them everything, but they are happy and confident they cannot be relegated. That is the most important thing for me,” charged Kimanzi.
He downplayed a possibility of faltering in the homestretch with the relegation battle going down to the wire, noting the fight against third placed Sofapaka on the 18-team log was testament of their zeal.
“We have to be realistic, of course if I gain one point and Thika gains three there is a huge difference, huge at this stage. We however have to be calm, they are Thika and we are Mathare United, with different fixtures ahead.
“We could have done better today and the standings would have been different by now, but we keep fighting to get more points in the remaining fixtures,” added the seasoned tactician.
The 2008 champions are just a point above 17th ranked Western Stima, making the KPL survival race more interesting.
Only bottom placed Muhoroni Youth appears to be fading out of the battle, with 25 points (seven below Mathare and Thika, and six below Stima).
Sofapaka’s head coach Ssam Simbwa described Mathare’s fight as astounding; noting their survival demands inspired them in the clash.
This, was a second match consecutively the 2009 champions failed to win against red-zone tucked teams, after Western Stima’s 3-1 defeat a week ago.
“It was a very hard game, tough on our side because we were playing a wounded buffalo. They (Mathare) were playing do or die because their relegation battle is becoming tougher for them, their chances are minimal.
“We also lost our so far best striker Umaru Kasumba to injury which affected us, so many chances created but not converted. I can a point was fair for us,” the Ugandan tactician said in post-match interview.
The former Sports Club Villa coach wants to finish only second to champions Gor Mahia, insisting they must dislodge 2016 champions Tusker from the second spot.
“The beautiful thing about it they (Tusker) are just a point above us, and we have a date with them. It is a good side, but beatable,” concluded Ssimbwa.
In the first leg, the teams drew 2-2, while Tusker was still under the tutelage of George Nsimbe, who has since been suspended leaving his assistant Francis Baraza in charge.
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