NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – After match day three of the 2017 Kenyan Premier League season, coastal side Bandari FC sit at the apex of the standings on seven points having picked two wins and a draw, a positive start for their new man at the helm, Paul Nkata.
The Ugandan tactician, who won the Kenyan Premier League title with Tusker FC last season, seems to have dripped some of his magic touch on the Dockers who endured a dismal performance in 2016, finishing a disappointing 14th.
Nkata, also named Coach of the Year last season, has had a track record of reviving the teams he has coached, having started with Nairobi City Stars and Muhoroni Youth in 2015 before moving to Tusker and leading them to a first ever season double.
And now, Bandari seems to be the recipient of the same magic and their 3-0 win over Nkata’s former side Muhoroni Youth over the weekend spoke as much.
“There is nothing much I have done to the team. My secret has always been to talk to the players politely like a father and ensure there is mutual respect between us. When you treat them with respect, then they will do the work on the pitch,” the soft spoken Nkata told Capital Sport.
Bandari is one of the only two teams yet to concede a goal this season, the only other side being Ulinzi Stars who have however played only one match. Nkata is pleased with the work rate of his backline and now puts focus on sharpening the attack.
“Against Muhoroni it worked because mostly during the week, we worked on shooting and what we do with the ball in attack. It has worked but there is still more to do. The league is a marathon and we have to go a step at a time. It is only three matches so we cannot be comfortable because we are leading,” Nkata added.
-AFC perfect start-
At the same time, AFC Leopards continued with their fine start picking their second win of the season, a hard fought 2-1 victory over Nzoia Sugar at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Ingwe came from behind to pick the win that took them second on six points, and head coach Stewart Hall believes the courage in fighting till the final minute exhibited by his charges will drive them a long way this season.
“This was a match we won not because we played well, but because we showed very good fighting spirit. We played really well especially in the second half. We fought and fought and I can’t really ask more of my players. I am proud of their performance,” the Briton said after seeing his side pick the vital win.
He admitted Nzoia gave them a run for their money, adding they ‘ran like crazy throughout the match’. Nzoia’s head coach Bernard Mwalala was pleased with the performance of his side despite the loss, adding they picked vital lessons in terms of handling big game pressure.
“We have seen what to expect and the players have now been welcomed to top flight football. We lost but I am happy with how we played. Looking at that performance, I am convinced that we will make a mark this season. We can as well be among those who can fight for the title,” Mwalala, a former Kenyan international said.
This was the Bungoma based club’s first loss of the season, a result that sees them drop to eighth on the standings.
While Ingwe continued with their positive start, arch rivals Gor Mahia lost for the first time this season, going down 2-1 to Western Stima at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu on Sunday after surrendering a one goal lead.
It was only the fourth time Western Stima were picking a win over Gor in 17 meetings and the result left Stima coach Henry Omino purring after losing their season opener against Sofapaka last weekend.
“We studied them and we knew how to beat them. Our strategy worked very well though I have to admit that we survived a lot of late onslaughts,” Omino said after the win.
Meanwhile, Sofapaka who recently received a shot in the arm with a Sh50mn sponsorship boost kept their good run, picking a second consecutive victory with a 1-0 win over Mathare United to move fourth on the standings.
In other matches played over the weekend, defending champions Tusker FC picked up their first win of the season, a huge morale booster after they overcame Chemelil Sugar 1-0 in Nakuru thanks to a Shafik Batambuze penalty.
The result sees Tusker who had lost back-to-back crawl off the bottom of the standings to 15th.
In Kericho, new boys Zoo FC continued to wait for their maiden win of the season after losing 2-0 at home to fellow new comers Nakumatt FC. Kariobangi Sharks also lost the third consecutive match after going down by a solitary goal against Ulinzi Stars.
Both sides sit side by side at the bottom of the KPL table.
KPL Weekend results
Saturday: Kariobangi Sharks 0-1 Ulinzi Stars, AFC Leopards 2-1 Nzoia Sugar (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Bandari 3-0 Muhoroni Youth (Mbaraki Complex), Kakamega Homeboyz 1-1 Posta Rangers (Mumias Complex).
Sunday: Tusker FC 1-0 Chemelil Sugar (Afraha Stadium), Mathare United 1-2 Sofapaka (Kenyatta Stadium Machakos), Sony Sugar 1-0 Thika United (Awendo Stadium) Zoo Kericho 0-2 Nakumatt FC (Kericho Green Stadium), Western Stima 2-1 Gor Mahia (Moi Stadium Kisumu).