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Bandari, Stima fold fists for top of table clash

Bandari FC head coach Bernard Mwalala watches on during his side’s Kenyan premier League clash against KCB at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on December 22, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28 – The banter on social media has already been telling on what to expect when two of the division’s four unbeaten sides clash at Kenya’s Coast, hosts Bandari tackling promoted Western Stima in a top of the table clash.

Stima who made a return to top flight football after a season playing in the second tier National Super League have won all their three matches, beating Posta Rangers and Tusker FC 1-0 as well as a 2-1 victory over Kakamega Homeboyz last weekend.

Bandari on their side have been off flying, beating Gor Mahia and Sofapaka by identical 2-1 margins while they were slowed down with a 1-1 draw on the road against KCB last weekend.

Stima top the standings while Bandari are third, only separated from second placed Mathare United via goal difference.

On Twitter, Western Stima have been bloating in confidence and rightly so as the last time they faced the dockers on October 7th, it ended in a 2-1 victory in Kisumu.

Overall over 14 previous league meetings between the two sides, Stima have won five times, lost thrice and drawn six.

Bandari FC players line up before their Kenyan premier League clash against KCB at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on December 22, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

But, their confidence might be tainted by the fact that they have never won in Mombasa, as all their five wins came at home. They have managed to pick a point from Mombasa on four occasions.

Bandari are beaming in confidence as they have picked up from their form last season since the arrival of Bernard Mwalala.

“I am happy with how we have started the season and picking up seven points so far is a good achievement for me. We put up a target of getting at least 10 points from our first five games and if I can win on Saturday and achieve that target with a game to spare then that will be great for us,” Mwalala said.

He expects a tough encounter from Stima and is optimistic his side has had enough time of rest and recovery after playing back to back away matches that has seen them amass close to 2,000km in travel on the road.

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Stima’s Paul Ogai meanwhile remains reserved despite his side’s positive start to the season and says he only wants his side to keep enjoying their football and raking in good results.

Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi watches from the touchline during a past Kenyan Premier League match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Meanwhile, the league’s other unbeaten side Mathare United will be away to Posta Rangers in Nakuru, Francis Kimanzi’s men looking to continue with another impressive start to a campaign.

Mathare won 2-0 against Chemelil, 3-0 against Nzoia and drew 0-0 with Ulinzi Stars last weekend and Kimanzi wants his young stars to keep the stone rolling against a Posta side that is still yet to get the season started proper.

The mailmen just but managed to nick a 2-1 result over struggling Mount Kenya United last weekend having started the season with a 1-0 loss away to Western Stima.

In the late kick off at the Afraha Stadium, Sofapaka and Ulinzi Stars will clash in what will most likely be a battle of the titans, the two sides having accrued same number of points (4) at this point of the season.

Sofapaka FC head coach Melis Medo shouts out instructions during a training session at the Ruiru Sports Ground on December 26, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The two sides sit bosom by bosom on the league standings and separating them has always been tough. Over 20 league meetings between them, the two have won seven games each while the remaining six have been draws.

But, Sofapaka have struggled at the Afraha Stadium, a ground where they have won only once and lost five times.

Head coach Melis Medo who is building up a new side after taking up the reins last month says he expects it tough against the military outfit, but reckons his side will have the final arrow on the quiver to deliver three points home.

“I know it will not be an easy game. It will be a clash of the titans. They know we are not an easy team and we know they are not an easy team, but we have worked on our game plan and all we want is three points,” the tactician told the club’s official website.

He added; “We have trained very well this week and we have worked to eliminate the bad things and improve on the things we are doing okay. We are ready to continue our campaign in a positive way.”

Medo has transformed the side with new players taking on new responsibilities.

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Sofapaka FC’s Cliff Kasuti wheels away from Shabana’s Michael Otieno during their Jamhuri Day Cup match at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on December 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Winger Cliff Kasuti will be facing his former side with the youngster having been transformed by the American coach to a wingback role. Kasuti says he is relishing the prospect of matching up against his former employers and says he is ready to be on the winning side.

It will not only be Kasuti facing his immediate former employers as on the other side, Ezekiel Okare will be coming up against Sofapaka having left them at the end of last season.

KPL Saturday fixtures:

Posta Rangers v Mathare United, Ulinzi Stars v Sofapaka (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru), KCB v Tusker FC, AFC Leopards v Vihiga United (Kenyatta Stadium Machakos), Kariobangi Sharks v Gor Mahia (Kasarani Stadium), Kakamega Homeboyz v Nzoia Sugar (Bukhungu Stadium), Chemelil Sugar v Mount Kenya United (Chemnelil), Bandari v Western Stima (Mombasa), Sony Sugar v Zoo Kericho (Awendo)

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