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Salim hoping to stabilize Mathare ship in Kimanzi absence

Mathare United assistant coach Salim Ali (left) makes a pointto his boss Francis Kimanzi during a Kenyan Premier League match at the Thika Sub County Stadium in April, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – A wobbling ship that is Mathare United will miss its captain for the next one month, with head coach Francis Kimanzi slapped with a touchline ban; but Salim Ali, the man trusted with the steering wheel in the head coach’s absence has vowed to help stabilize the side.

His start though, was on a sour footing as he endured a 5-1 loss at the hands of his former team Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru and he is now tasked with lifting the spirits of the young boys as they prepare for another sticky assignment, a home tie against Chemelil Sugar on Wednesday.

“Of course when you have a head coach absent it is not good because he is the leader of the team. It is five matches to go now and hopefully, I will try to represent him well and hoping we can be able to get good results,” Salim, also a former Sofapaka FC head coach offered.

The 5-1 spanking at the hands of Ulinzi Stars was their biggest loss since the 4-0 to KCB, now in the second tier in July 2014. Ali blamed this on an inexperienced and young side.

“It has been long since we lost by such a margin but this is a learning lesson to the young boys. We did a few mistakes which cost us. Going 3-0 down after 12 minutes is always tough. The players were in a rush, wanted to work on something which they didn’t manage,” the tactician noted.

The Slum Boys sit second from bottom on the Kenyan Premier League table with a meager five points off one win and two draws and another loss at the hands of Abdallah Juma’s sugar millers will not be an option.

“It will be another tough match against Chemelil but we have to work on our mental strength, give the players confidence and approach Chemelil with a different mentality. This is a league and not a tournament. The loss is behind us and hopefully we will get three points,” the tactician noted.

Mathare United players celebrate their season opening Kenyan Premier League win at the Thika Sub County Stadium in March, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Ali and Kimanzi in training will have a lot to do in motivating the players and getting their spirits up after the huge loss last weekend.

Last season, Mathare picked four points off Chemelil, winning 1-0 at home before posting a 1-1 result in Awasi. Chemelil have been in decent form in Abdallah Juma’s first season in charge managing to pick 11 points out of six matches and sitting sixth on the log, only three points off leaders Posta Rangers.

But they should be worried of a checkered away record that has seen them win only once in three attempts this season.

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