Kimanzi relaxed despite KPL relegation scare
Only four matches are remaining in the 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL), and Mathare could be out of the topflight for the first time in 15 years.
The 2008 champions are currently 15th on the log, level with Western Stima at 31 points, just two above Thika United (17) and six ahead of bottom placed Muhoroni Youth, who have a game in hand.
Mathematically, Mathare are still facing the axe, which would send them to the National Super League (NSL), considering the move by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to institute a play-off between third last team in the topflight and the second runners up in the second tier, to scramble for a place in the Premier League.
Thus, three teams could slip down the ladder at the closure of the season, but Mathare head coach Francis Kimanzi is unperturbed.
“There is no need to press the panic button. We just need to prepare well like we did in the last two matches. Slowly we will reach our target,” Kimanzi told the club’s official portal.
The quest to reach ‘the target’ of surviving the blade starts with Sofapaka FC in Narok on Wednesday, and Kimanzi is confident of a good show.
“After a week of training under tense political climate, the players had their final session today at the Goan Institute Grounds ahead of the clash against Sofapaka.
“The first leg ended 2-1 in favour of Batoto Ba Mungu and the lads are determined to overturn that result. Its full house in camp with long term absentees Wycliffe Kasaya and Roy Syamba still sidelined due to knee injuries,” the club said in it’s official website.
While they desperately need maximum points against Sofapaka, the 2009 are under no pressure, sitting third on the log with 48 points.
Head coach Ssam Simbwa will be keen to make amends after sinking 3-1 to Western Stima in their last outing, a side that is in relegation battle.
Allegations of match fixing rocked the defeat, with team manager, Willis Waliaula, losing his job.
“The title may be gone but we have to finish strongly. We played badly; nothing appeared to be working on our side against Stima.
“We must show our real character in the remaining matches, every member of the team must wake up,” the Ugandan tactician charged.
The match will present his most lethal striker Umarau Kasumba and Mathare’s Chrispin Oduor with opportunities of extending their goals tally from 11 and 10 respectively, in the Golden Boot race.
In Muhoroni, Bandari FC is a target by the hosts who could seal their fate to NSL by failing to win the next two matches.
The Dockers Odyssey to Awasi, where they faced irate demonstrators on the road in the presidential repeat poll results announcement aftermath, will not count in the match according to assistant coach George Owoko.
“The point is that we arrived safely. The match will be played on the pitch and yesterday’s issues are a past tense in this context,” Owoko said.
Gor Mahia will be playing Stima at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in their march to coronation, while Nakumatt FC hosts Zoo Kericho at the Ruaraka grounds.
Ulinzi Stars will lock horns with Kariobangi Sharks at the Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, as 12-time champions AFC Leopards visit Mumias Sports Complex to play younger brothers Nzoia Sugar.
Thika United will clash with Sony Sugar at the Ruaraka grounds, with Chemelil Sugar versus Tusker FC pairing at the Chemelil Sports Complex completing the midweek fixtures.
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