NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2- Despite an explosive start that has seen them pick up 10 points in their first four matches of the season, Mathare United head coach Francis Mathare believes there is still room for improvement for the side that evaded relegation by a whisker last season.
The Slum Boys are one of the only four unbeaten sides this year and their 10-ppoint haul after three wins and draw is double the amount they had managed at the same point last season.
“It’s still too early but with four games already and with 10 points, it’s a good step and a good motivation for the young players who struggled a lot last year. It shows development and maturity. They have taken the first few games with a big punch and it builds lots of confidence and I am seeing lots of room to improve,” Kimanzi said.
Mathare’s emphatic 3-1 win over a star-studded Sofapaka side last weekend was biggest testament that Kimanzi’s charges would not be engaging in the murky wars of relegation again and the tactician says he is reaping the fruits of keeping faith in a young squad.
Kimanzi lost almost the entire first team cog from the 2016 season and instead of going for seasoned players, he chose to stick to youngsters and they have proved him right with their performance thus far.
“They are becoming another force with only their second season in the league. Most were new and complete beginners, but we can see what one year can do with a good environment for development,” the coach said.
He added; “They have become so solid and I am enjoying the way they play, the way they make decisions in attack and defending. I love what they have developed into after 16 months of work.”
Mathare hope to keep the form flying this weekend when they travel away to Thika United, a side which has found it tough to get their feet on the ground with just two points off their first four matches.
-Kariobangi Sharks look to bounce back-
Meanwhile, Kariobangi Sharks tactician William Muluya hopes his side can recover from last weekend’s slim loss against Gor Mahia, saying his side was not pressed down despite letting off Gor with an easy win.
Sharks had rallied from a goal down to hold the 16-time champions to a 1-1 draw, but a mistake saw them drop hopes for a win.
“We played well but we were punished for our mistakes. Football is a game of chances and if you make mistakes you are punished. That’s not the end of our fight. We will ensure we improve for the return leg,” Muluya said.
Wazito have had a mixed start to their debut season in top flight winning one, drawing another and losing the other of their opening three games.
They return to their Camp Toyoyo base on Sunday hoping to replicate the result they had on their opening day, a 1-0 win over Sony Sugar.
“It has been a tough start definitely with some lessons to pick here and there, but the team is getting better. It will be tough against Sharks because they are very tactical and organized but I am hopeful we can get a positive result from the match,” the coach opined.
In other fixtures to be played this weekend, Sofapaka will host Posta Rangers at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos tomorrow, head coach Sam Ssimbwa hoping they can build on from their 2-1 win over AFC Leopards in midweek.
The two sides lie side by side at sixth and seventh in the standings both having picked up six points. Unbeaten Posta have drawn thrice and won once while Sofapaka have won twice and lost a similar number.
Posta boss Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo will hope to use the advantage that they will be fresher than their opponents who had to travel to Narok for their midweek engagement.
“Despite that I think this will be a very tough match for us but overall, I expect us to get a win. Sofapaka has a very good forward line and it is one area we should really be cautious about,” Omollo said.
Statistically, Posta walk into the tie shoulders high as they have won half of their last 10 fixtures against Batoto ba Mungu, losing three and drawing twice. Last season, they picked four points off Sofapaka winning the first leg 1-0 and drawing the return tie 1-1.
KPL Weekend fixtures:
Saturday: Chemelil Sugar v Zoo Kericho (Chemelil), Vihiga United v Nakumatt (Bukhungu), Nzoia Sugar v Kakamega Homeboyz (Sudi Stadium), Sofapaka v Posta Rangers, Gor Mahia v Bandari (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos).
Sunday: Thika United v Mathare United (Thika Stadium), Sony Sugar v AFC Leopards (Awendo), Wazito v Kariobangi Sharks (Camp Toyoyo), Ulinzi Stars v Tusker FC (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru).