Thika seek revival, Posta out to tame Leopards in KPL


Thika United FC players pray after their SportPesa Premier League match against Nairobi City Stars ...
(FILE) Thika United FC players pray after their SportPesa Premier League match against Nairobi City Stars FC at the Safaricom stadium Kasarani on October 15, 2016. Thika United won 1-0. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Thika United Head Coach James Nandwa has admitted the side is desperate to shake off their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) slump when they host fellow strugglers Western Stima at the Thika Sub-County Stadium on Sunday.

A nightmare start has seen Thika lose five of their seven league matches this term and sit just above the relegation zone but Stima presents them a chance to get their season on track.

Their opponents, who enjoyed a standout 2016 season and even produced the league’s Most Valuable Player – Kenneth Muguna, are enduring a drastic change of fortunes.

Despite pulling off a shock 2-1 win over domestic giants Gor Mahia FC in their second match of the season, their form has taken a deep dive and have now scored only once since that upset. They travel to Thika for the league’s round eight fixtures to face a side pretty much in their shoes.

“It is a bad moment for us and I don’t think we have any option other than to start performing. We need to raise our game .Frankly, our next match is a do or die we have to win.

“I have noticed that whenever the players want to do something it goes wrong and the bad thing is that it’s happening on a regular basis. Of course this affects their morale. Perhaps, if we work hard we might recover,” Nandwa told Citizen Digital.

The veteran tactician is determined to turn around their fortunes before his side face four-time KPL champions Ulinzi Stars in their next crucial league assignment.

“I need to have a pep talk with the players, provide the motivation they need and tell them that it is not yet over. If I go hard on them it’s dangerous and more so because of the pending work ahead of us,” he underscored.

The goalkeeping department has been the highlight of their struggles with Nandwa now having picked all of his three available goalkeepers – Kaleb Wafula, Boniface Baraza and Eliud Emasse – as starters in at least one league match.

“Judging from our past matches it has always been obvious that we needed to improve in the goalkeeping unit. In the last two matches we were having problems with Emasse although he has been playing a lot but I’m impressed by the way Baraza played against Sharks. For the first time this season I felt convinced I might have a first choice goalkeeper.

The highlight of the weekend’s league action sees surprise table-toppers Posta Rangers come up against the might of 12-time champions AFC Leopards who were their second defeat of the season by Sofapaka FC last weekend.

Sony Sugar welcomes Nzoia Sugar whose impressive run in the league in their maiden campaign sees them rank seventh with Chemelil Sugar set to host Kariobangi Sharks.

Defending champions Tusker who returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Nakumatt play Muhoroni Youth a point adrift of the brewers who are placed 11th   on nine points.

A rejuvenated Sofapaka side that is yet to lose a league fixture has a golden chance to stretch her unbeaten run when they face Bandari in a late Monday fixture slated for Match 1.

The Batoto Ba Mungu is third on the log behind Kogalo and only four points separate them from leaders Posta Rangers.

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Muhoroni Youth vs Tusker Sat 15:00

Chemelil vs Kariobangi Sat 15:00

Nzoia Sugar FC vs Sony Sugar Sat 15:00

Gor Mahia vs Mathare United Sat 14:00

Posta Rangers vs AFC Leopards Sun 14:00

Sofapaka vs Bandari Mon 16:15

-Report by Mwangi Githinji.

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