NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12- Two identical 2-1 wins in two consecutive matches have seen 2008 Kenyan Premier League champions Mathare United zoom top of the standings, a sharp contrast to their performance last season that saw them battle relegation the entire season.
The Slum Boys, without a sponsor this season after the exit of both Britam and Betway, came from behind to win 2-1 against Nzoia Sugar in Machakos on Sunday, a similar result they posted against debutants Vihiga United in their first match.
Though early days, head coach Francis Kimanzi was impressed with the attitude and improvement shown by his players and will only hope they can be consistent this season.
“The boys are showing some character because it’s the second game that we worked very well. It also shows that we have some maturity and depth in the team. We can always get better,” Kimanzi commented after seeing his side battle to a second win.
The tactician speaking before the season commenced affirmed that his charges have learnt from their misgivings last season and will be careful not to repeat the same mistakes that saw them swim in the doldrums of relegation.
For Nzoia, it was yet another disappointing result having began the season negatively with a 1-0 loss at home against Kariobangi Sharks.
The sugar belt side and Zoo Kericho are the only two sides yet to pick a point this season with the latter having not featured this weekend as their opponents Gor Mahia were busy in continental football.
Bandari, Chemelil Sugar and Kariobangi Sharks retained their positions within the top five slots each picking up single points after their opening day wins. Bandari and Chemelil played to a 0-0 draw in Mombasa while Kariobangi Sharks had to come from behind to draw 2-2 with debutants Vihiga.
-Timbe continues search for win-
Meanwhile, Sam Timbe’s search for a maiden victory as Tusker FC head coach continued unsuccessfully with a barren draw at home against Posta Rangers.
However, the talking point of the game at the Ruaraka Complex was the absence of assistant coach Francis Baraza who is said to have been sent on compulsory leave though the management has been coy on the issue.
“My work as Tusker FC is to coach. When I signed my contract, it read very well that I am a coach so the rest of the things are administrative and should be left to the office,” Timbe said after their match, steering clear of the issue.
Sources at Ruaraka intimate that there might have been some frosty relation between the two coaches, hence the management’s decision to ask him to step aside. It was the same fate that former boss George Nsimbe suffered before being sacked last season.
Coincidentally, it was Baraza who held forte after the Ugandan was asked to vacate his duties.
Despite the drama off the pitch, Timbe hopes his new look Tusker side which has looked flat over the past two matches will begin firing and he is impressed with their improvement.
“There is no pressure for me because I am used to this kind of work. It is not easy when you have 14 new players in a club and you have to build a new team but we are trying our best and soon we will have good results,” Timbe said.
Posta meanwhile seems to the same old outfit from last season that couldn’t score to save their lives. In two matches, Posta has scored only a single goal and head coach Sammy Omollo was once again left ruing the missed opportunities from their bout with Tusker.
“If we were more composed upfront, things would have been different. But I am pleased with how we have fared over the last two games since we have faced very competent sides. Moving forward I believe we have room for improvement,” noted the coach.
Another exciting fixture from last weekend pit last season’s relegation survivors Thika United and the cash strapped Nakumatt, a tie that ended in a 3-3 draw.
Thika had themselves to blame after blowing up a 2-0 and 3-1 lead to share spoils and head coach Nicholas Muyoti was equally frustrated.
“We made very basic errors at the back and at this level, this should not be happening. This is a game we should have won but we paid for our own mistakes. Defending like that is not acceptable,” the irate tactician fumed.
For Nakumatt, it has turned out to a chase of living a day at a time especially coming in a time when they are facing a stern financial period.
“It is very tough to be honest and it is a situation which you can’t survive without a strong mentality. Some of us are used to working with teams with worse financial situations in the grassroot but now this is a higher level which is difficult. But we will live through it and hope things become better,” Mwangi noted.
KPL weekend results:
Saturday: Kakamega Homeboyz 0-1 Sofapaka FC, Bandari 0-0 Chemelil Sugar, Nakumatt FC 3-3 Thika United.
Sunday: Tusker 0-0 Psta Rangers, Kariobangi Sharks 2-2 Vihiga United, Mathare United 2-1 Nzoia Sugar, Sony Sugar 1-0 Ulinzi Stars.