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Blunt Mathare eye redemption against Vihiga

Mathare United forward Clifford Alwanga celebrates his brace with teammates in a 2-1 win over Vihiga United on February 4, 2018. PHOTO/Mathare United

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15- With only one win in their last 11 games, second placed Mathare United will be looking for redemption when they host Vihiga United at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on Saturday afternoon.

Mathare, who started the season with superb form, will still be without head coach Francis Kimanzi who returned from national team duty and asked for a short extension to his leave for personal reasons.

Mathare’s last win was a blanking 3-1 victory over Zoo Kericho in Machakos, but before then, their previous win was on April 8 against Tusker FC.

In the 11 games that followed, they have picked six draws and lost four times, seeing them drop five points behind leaders Gor Mahia who have played four matches less.

A win against a struggling Vihiga on Saturday will hoist them to within two points of Gor and it they will be under pressure to pick up maximum points and get their league title campaign back on track.

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

Despite the gulf of difference between them and the leaders, forward Clifford Alwanga whose goal scoring prowess has played a vital role in lifting Mathare believes they still have an opportunity to vie for the title.

“The team is playing well and everybody has the belief that we can do it (win the league) this season. Morale is high and personally I am motivated to help the team achieve its target by scoring as many goals as possible,” Alwanga told the club’s official website.

The former KCB and Tusker FC man has scored 10 times already this season having made his debut in the first leg against Saturday’s opponents scoring both goals in their 2-1 win.

Alwanga will be high in hope to add on to his tally as he chases down leader Elvis Rupia of Nzoia whose scintillating form has seen him hit the back of the net 15 times this season.

“I will continue working hard in training because 15 matches are enough for me to overtake Rupia. It is possible with the right commitment and focus,” Alwanga further told the club’s official site.

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The Vihiga United squad that started their first ever Kenyan Premier League match against Mathare United on February 4, 2018 at the Bukhungu Stadium. PHOTO/Mathare United

Vihiga meanwhile come into the tie with huge struggles of their own having lost all their last three matches. They have lost to Zoo Kericho, Bandari and Thika United, all in 1-0 margins.

Their record away from home hasn’t been the best as they have won on only two of the 10 occasions they have been on the road.

Mathare has been boosted with the return of defender Johnston Omurwa and midfielder Chris Oduor who have been away with the national team in India. Skipper George ‘Wise’ Owino has also returned to training after recovering from a hairline fracture, but will not be fit enough to make the squad.

-Bottom side battle- 

Elsewhere, the Kericho Green Stadium will host a possible relegation brawl when bottom sides Zoo Kericho and Sony Sugar battle out, each looking to crawl off the drop zone. Zoo are 15th in the standings with 19 points while Zoo are second from bottom with 17.

Zoo Kericho head coach Sammy Okoth. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

The Sugar Millers, who have roped in experienced players to aid their push off the bottom won the first leg 1-0 in Awasi and having won their last game 3-1 against Nakumatt, they will be keen to pick back to back victories.

Zoo also come into the tie with some boosted confidence having picked up a 1-0 win away to Vihiga United in midweek.

KPL weekend fixtures:

Saturday: Mathare United v Vihiga United (Camp Toyoyo), Zoo Kericho v Sony Sugar (Kericho Stadium), AFC Leopards v Chemelil Sugar (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos).

Sunday: Nakumatt v Kakamega Homeboyz (Camp Toyoyo), Nzoia Sugar v Gor Mahia (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Sofapaka v Thika United (Narok Stadium), Kariobangi Sharks v Posta Rangers (Camp Toyoyo), Tusker FC v Wazito FC (Ruaraka), Ulinzi Stars v Bandari (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru).

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