NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Tusker FC skipper James Situma is confident of leading the brewers to another Kenyan Premier League title with the reigning champions regaining their footing after a horrendous start to the season.
The brewers have won three matches in a row and their 1-0 victory over Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday took them to fifth on the log with 15 points, six shy of leaders Posta Rangers.
“The team is putting effort to get results and I am happy we are getting something. I believe the more we continue getting wins, the more we will get the momentum to move on and I am confident we can defend the title especially if we continue with teamwork,” Situma said.
The brewers who won a first ever double last season were victims of their own success at the start of the 2017 season, crushing out of the CAF Champions League at the hands of lowly Mauritian opponents AS Port Louis.
They went on to lose their opening two matches of the season, coming hot on the heels of losing the KPL Super Cup to rivals Gor Mahia.
“It was lack of focus and concentration and the players didn’t know what they wanted. We are a big team and sometimes you can’t play for the coach or the company but have to play for your pride,” the skipper told Capital Sport.
“We were concerned with the manner in which we started the season. We sat down as a team and talked; we are the defending champions and we had to respond. We said if we had to win then we had to play as a team,” Situma further added.
His sentiments were echoed by head coach George ‘Best’ Nsimbe who added there was an element of complacency in the team when he joined in at the beginning of the year.
“We woke up and started playing like defending champions. They (players) changed their attitude and started playing well because I knew they could. They are good players,” Nsimbe added.
The two now hope the team can maintain the same tempo as they inch closer and closer to the leaders Posta Rangers who remain the only unbeaten side in the league this far.
– Rangers keep unbeaten run –
Rangers picked their sixth 1-0 win of the season after beating Sofapaka at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, putting to an end Batoto ba Mungu’s seven-match unbeaten run.
Head coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo has heaped praise on his ‘efficient’ team and hopes they can keep up their winning run.
“I think we have picked up quite well and maintaining a consistent performance throughout has not been easy. I have to give it up to the players because they have been resilient and hopefully, we can keep up this performance,” Omollo said on his side’s run.
Meanwhile, Ulinzi Stars returned to winning ways with a 3-2 win over Thika United at the Thika Stadium on Sunday, Stephen Waruru surging to the top of the goalscorers’ chart with a brace that increased his season tally to six.
The pint-sized assassin never played in the opening four matches of the season, but has proved to be an asset since being called in for his first match of the season, the 1-1 draw against Tusker where he scored Ulinzi’s goal.
The win at Thika took them to 15 points on the log and Nyangweso has called on his charges to ensure the run does not fade off as they aim for a first league crown since 2011.
– New boys continue to shine –
At the same time, the Premier League’s new boys continued to shine with Zoo Kericho and Kariobangi Sharks picking identical 2-0 wins in their weekend matches.
After claiming their first top flight win with a shocking 2-1 result away to Ulinzi Stars, Zoo kept their form on the road intact, going in to the Moi Stadium in Kisumu and spanking hosts Western Stima 2-0.
Head coach Sammy Okoth believes his side has been building up confidence and experience with each match and they will soon be a force to reckon with.
Kariobangi Sharks also continued with their impressive form picking their fourth win of the season, one that took them to 10th place with 13 points, only two shy of third placed.
The club has shown tremendous improvement over the past few matches and head coach William Muluya, just like his Zoo counterpart has attributed this to growing confidence.
– KPL weekend results –
Friday: Mathare United 0 Bandari 1, Kariobangi Sharks 2 Sony Sugar 0 (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos), Nzoia Sugar 1 Nakumatt 1 (Sudi Stadium, Bungoma).
Saturday: Posta Rangers 1 Sofapaka 0 (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), Tusker FC 1 Kakamega Homeboyz 0 (Ruaraka Complex).
Sunday: AFC Leopards 0 Gor Mahia 3 (Nyayo Stadium), Thika United 2 Ulinzi Stars 3 (Thika Stadium), Western Stima 0 Zoo Kericho 2 (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Chemelil Sugar 0 Muhoroni Youth 0 (Chemelil Complex).