NAIROBI, Kenya, July 4 – Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi believes the victory over Ulinzi Stars can lay the foundations for a possible Kenyan Premier League title challenge.
Wyvone Isuza goal helped put the Mathare United within two points of leaders Tusker FC and saw them stay on track for their second KPL title as the season entered the grueling second leg.
Victory over the 2010 champions ensured the Slum Boys maintain their top five consistency since the beginning of the season, but Kimanzi, who guided Mathare United to their first ever KPL title in 2008, is keen to play down the significance of the feat with 14 round of matches remaining.
“We have a short term objective of attaining 28 points in the second leg after managing 27 in the first leg. So if we can score more points than we did in the opening leg, then we will have achieved our target,” Kimanzi, who is the most qualified tactician in East Africa, affirmed.
“The title will depend if we can hit our own target, if we can get over 28 points we will have achieved our target, then we will see what other teams have and see if we will be in a good position to win the league,” the former Harambee Stars head coach added.
Kimanzi revealed after the game against Ulinzi that he was surprised his charges could manage to get into the system quickly after a month-long break and he was positive the good start will motivate the team to an unbeaten second leg.
“We are surprised because we didn’t expect to get the rhythm after a break, sometimes you drop the tempo especially the mentality to fight but they did a good job. I didn’t expect we get the rhythm up to 80 percent after being forced to change our game plan.
“By the time we were stopping the league for mid season we were losing the rhythm as Mathare United but today (Saturday) I didn’t expect we create many chances in a span of 20 minutes but more importantly we managed to get at least one goal.”
Kimanzi bolstered his squad in the June transfer window recruiting three players, keeper Wycliffe Kasaya, Cliff Mandere Nyakeya from Gor Mahia Youth and Ronald Okoth Ronald from Western Stima.
Of the three, the head coach heaped praises on Kasaya, who returned to top flight football for the first time this season after plying trade at second tier side Nakumatt FC.
“Kasaya won the game for us; he brought a different character in our defence and it’s very nice because it gives the opponent the opportunity to struggle to beat our back-line. He is still young and has room to improve and I think he is enjoying his stay here which is important,’ Kimanzi underscored.
The last time Mathare United won the Kenyan Premier League title Kimanzi was at the helm of the team and eight years down the line, the UEFA B Licensed coach will be looking to repeat the same feat.
If he manages to lift the title, Kimanzi will write another history with his old time club, having been the youngest coach to ever lead a Kenyan club to a national premier league title, then at 32 years.
During his heydays as a player, he captained Mathare United to its first Moi Golden Cup trophy in 1998.