Relegation fight down to the wire


Thika United players seek divine intervention before kick off in a past match.The milkmen ...
(FILE)Thika United players seek divine intervention before kick off in a past match.The milkmen face Leopards on Wednesday.Image/SportPicha

After edging holders Tusker FC 1-0 on Sunday, Thika United are confident of  staging survival in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) with two matches remaining to the end of the campaign.

The weekend win so them leap three points clear of relegation zone, tied at 35 points with Mathare United who won with a similar margin against Sony Sugar.

With Muhoroni Youth’s case closed after their 7-0 mauling by Kariobangi Sharks on Saturday, Western Stima is the only team closer to the two (at 32 points) meaning the battle will go down to the wire.

Former Harambee Stars captain Nicholas Muyioti, now coaching Thika, hailed his charges for the win which he noted is a statement of intent to play in the topflight in 2018.

“I thank God for the win; it wasn’t easy at all against a side that has been in very good form recently. My players gave their best too, and you could see that desire for a win.

“Any other result would have made it very difficult for us going into the last two matches but we are now more confident. We don’t want a situation where we depend on other team’s results in the final tally for survival,”  Muyoti said.

Muyoti will have to beat Zoo Kericho and Bandari FC if his six-point plan is to be achieved, to safely seal his KPL place for next season.

Victor Ndinya of Bandari FC shoots past Paul Muchika during their GOtv Shield quarter-finals match at the Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi Kenya on November 15, 2015. Bandari FC won 4-0. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha
Victor Ndinya of Bandari FC shoots past Paul Muchika during their GOtv Shield quarter-finals match at the Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi Kenya on November 15, 2015. Bandari FC won 4-0. Photo/Sportpicha

“They (Bandari and Zoo) are very good teams, that’s why they are ahead of us on the log. We however have to face them knowing our life in the league will be determined by what we register against them.

“We will therefore have to fight hard, any other result but a win will not do us much good,”  the tactician added.

Tactical dicipline

Mathare’s Francis Kimanzi had warned that there will be no room for mistake in the remaining three matches of the season, and proved it to Nzoia. Tactical discipline was key for Mathare, as Nzoia created many opportunities enough to sink the hosts had they been converted.

“Kasarani has always been a good hunting ground in the history of the club and the 1-0 win over Nzoia Sugar was along the same line.

“The lads put up a brave show to edge Nzoia Sugar in the hotly contested match,” the club said in a statement in their official portal.

With the already relegated Muhoroni next on their card, Mathare are smelling three more points before closing the season with Posta Rangers, who are chasing a second spot finish.

Mathare United FC coach Francis Kimanzi reacts against AFC Leopards SC during their Sportpesa Premier League match at the Nyayo National stadium.IMAGE/SPORTPICHA.
Mathare United FC coach Francis Kimanzi reacts against AFC Leopards SC during their Sportpesa Premier League match at the Nyayo National stadium.IMAGE/SPORTPICHA.

Thus, an exciting battle will be seen among the two teams, and goal-difference could decide who plays the third team from the National Super League (NSL) in the playoff proposed by Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

Interestingly, one of the teams between number nine and 14 on the log could join Muhoroni to NSL if the rest in that bracket win all their matches, as it loses all.

Only four points separate the five teams, with Bandari tucked at ninth with 40, while Sony, Chemelil and AFC Leopards tying at 39. Zoo is thirteenth with 37, meaning safety for the five will be guaranteed after round 33 of matches’ results.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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