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Kim slams Ruaraka pitch, terms it a ‘big joke’

Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi shares sentiments with his assistant Salim Ali during their Kenyan premier League match against Tusker FC at the Ruaraka Complex on January 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – While he was impressed with the performance of his charges beating Tusker FC 2-1 to retain their hold on the Kenyan Premier League table apex, Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi was nowhere near impressed with the quality of the Ruaraka Complex playing surface.

The tactician, formerly coaching the brewers slammed the use of the pitch saying it cannot be sued to host top-flight games.

“It is sad that this is a pitch approved to host a top Kenyan Premier League fixture. I don’t know… I understand we have a technical committee in the KPL that approves pitches and if they approved this one, then it’s a big joke,” the tactician lamented after the game.

The Ruaraka playing pitch had earlier been suspended by KPL due to the irregular and dry nature of the playing surface. However, it was reinstated merely two weeks later.

As at the time they were banning the ground from hosting any KPL games, KPL’s report noted that the Inspection team asked Tusker’s team doctor Wycliffe Makanga how many injuries to players he attends to on a daily basis given the poor state of the ground.

Mathare United defender David Owino vies for the ball with Tusker’s Paul Kamau during their Kenyan premier League match at the Ruaraka Complex on January 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

According to the findings, Ruaraka had the following shortcomings;

  1. a) The ground is heavily infested with poor hard grass, thus making the main playing turf very bumpy with many depressed areas collecting ponds of water that will not allow a ball to move when it rains during a match.
  2. b) Both goal areas are bear with no grass and goal lines between the goal posts are hilly and would not allow a ball to roll easily even if the goalkeeper is beaten, thus preventing a would be goal. This is a big disadvantage to players of both teams who strive to score goals.
  3. c) The Eastern side penalty area is bear and collects and a lot of rain water, just as the center of the field and many other areas in the playing turf are depressed and will be ponds of stagnant water with heavy rains.

Not much has changed on the playing surface since and Kimanzi was rightly frustrated.

Nonetheless, he was pleased with the attitude shown by his players in amassing their fifth win of the season and keeping their unbeaten run intact.

“It’s very important in terms of measure of the momentum especially against a tough side on a bad pitch. It is almost impossible to play football here but I told the players that if we have a better behavior, even if the pitch is poor, we can get a result and we did,” the tactician stated.

Tusker FC striker Timothy Otieno vies for the ball with Mathare United defender Andrew Juma during a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Ruaraka Complex on January 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

One of Mathare’s key components this season has been their backline. The lone goal they conceded against Tusker was only their fourth in seven matches and only Western Stima and Kariobangi Sharks (3) have conceded less.

They have done this with a new pairing at centre back, Andrew ‘Roma’ Juma coming in to partner Kenyan Under-23 international Johnstone Omurwa after the injury on the experienced George Owino.

Together, the two have marshalled a backline that has kept four clean sheets in seven games.

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“It is a real success story for the young stoppers that we have in the team. Roma for example is giving a clear indicator of what success of a young player can be because the whole of last season he never played a single match and now he has started all the seven,” the coach said.

He added; “It shows that we prepared him very well and was ready for the challenge. Today was a big test for him and he was very resilient.”

Mathare sit top of the table with 17 points, two ahead of another unbeaten side, Bandari.

Kimanzi has challenged his charges to be consistent in their chase this season and show they can also challenge for top honors.

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