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Bubbly Mathare look to regain KPL top spot

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Mathare United players celebrate their late winner against Nzoia Sugar during a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 11, 2018. PHOTO/Mathare United

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4- With a win over Nakumatt FC on Wednesday afternoon, Mathare United will move back to the top of the Kenyan Premier League standings albeit having played two matches more than prior leaders Gor Mahia.

Francis Kimanzi’s charges have had a blistering start to the season and have lost only once in eight matches, amassing 17 out of a possible 24 points. This is huge contrast to their performance last season when at the same stage, they had won only two games.

Coming up against a team they failed to beat last season, Mathare will have their fair share of work cut out, but they will fancy their chances against a side that has struggled to string results, bombarded on the side by immense financial trouble.

Nakumatt have lost thrice on the trot and the last time they celebrated victory was February 17 when they won 1-0 away to Nzoia Sugar.

But despite their troubles and non-performance, Mathare United skipper George Owino will be expecting an uphill task. The match lands on a special occasion for the defender who will be celebrating his 37th birthday and just like fine wine, has been getting better with age.

“It’s difficult to play when you have no money in your pockets and it’s unfortunate that Nakumatt players have been going through that for a long time now. However that does not mean that they are an easy side to beat,” Owino told the club’s official website.

Mathare United skipper George Owino celebrates a goal in a past match with teammate Lennox Ogutu. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

He adds; “They are an experienced team and we have to approach them cautiously. We have to convert our chances and defend as a team.”

Since suffering a 4-3 defeat to AFC Leopards in a match they twice led, Mathare have bounced back to win away to Sony Sugar and at home to Chemelil. It is the same form that the side will be angling to replicate on Wednesday.

Nakumatt who are two points off the drop zone will be gunning for maximum points to ease off their chop fears and despite the lack of financial motivation, head coach Anthony Mwangi hopes that the motivation of remaining in the league will be enough to spur them.

-Sofapaka take on Nzoia-

Meanwhile, Batoto ba Mungu who erstwhile said they were not up to vying for the league crown after a slow start to the season will be facing a tricky Nzoia Sugar side which seems to have found its feet after a stuttering start to the season.

Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa reacts during their KPL match against Mathare United. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Nzoia have won back to back against Sony and Zoo Kericho and head coach Bernard Mwalala will be eying a third consecutive win, though their form on the road has been a distance from convincing.

The Bungoma based side has lost all its three away matches this season (Mathare United, Tusker and Gor Mahia) while their last victory on the travel was in August last year when they beat Nakumatt 2-1 at Ruaraka.

Playing on the same pitch, they will be hoping for the same drop of luck.

Sofapaka have meanwhile slowly crawled back to the top and sit fourth, three points shy of leaders Gor Mahia. They have not lost in five matches picking 13 points off a possible 15, placing them joint top with Gor on the form table over the last five fixtures.

They have won their last three home matches, beating AFC Leopards, Posta Rangers and Tusker FC, results that have left them walking shoulder high in confidence.

Last season, they picked four out of six points off Nzoia, winning the second leg 3-1 at home after picking a point in the first leg in Sudi off a 1-1 draw.

A win for Sam Ssimbwa’s charges might raise them all the way to second, depending on the result Mathare posts against Nakumatt in the early kick off.

-Other fixtures-

Posta Rangers coach Sammy Pamzo Omollo. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

In other fixtures, a resurgent Posta Rangers will be hosting the star studded Kakamega Homeboyz at the Camp Toyoyo Artificial Turf in Nairobi’s Jericho estate, Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo looking to lift the side on the standings.

The mailmen haven’t been convincing enough this season and have enjoyed victory only twice in eight matches, drawing five and losing one.

Finishing has been Omollo’s biggest concern for his side especially having scored a paltry eight goals this season, an average of one per game but having put three past Thika United over the weekend, they might be finally firing from all cylinders.

Homeboyz, a side bloated with experience has found it tough to post consistent results and their 1-0 win over Bandari over the weekend put behind their backs a poor run of three consecutive losses.

Mike Mururi and his men will be eying consistency and a fourth victory of the season that will possibly hoist them to seventh place from 11th.

In other ties, Ulinzi Stars will host Vihiga United at the Afraha Stadium while Chemelil will host struggling Thika United at the Chemelil Complex.

KPL Midweek fixtures:

Nakumatt FC vs Mathare United live on KTN Home from 2PM

Sofapaka vs Nzoia Sugar FC live on ViuSasa from 4:15PM

Chemelil Sugar FC vs Thika United – Chemelil Complex – 1PM

Posta Rangers vs Kakamega Homeboyz – Camp Toyoyo – 3PM

Ulinzi Stars vs Vihiga United – Afraha Stadium – 3PM

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