NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – Four games without victory – two losses and two draws – have seen Mathare United’s early lead at the apex of the Kenyan Premier League standings cut down with Bandari tied on points with the Slum Boys only separated by goal difference.
Tuesday afternoon’s 4-1 loss at the hands of Sofapaka was crushing for the 2008 league champions and head coach Francis Kimanzi has admitted that his boys are now lowering the guard allowing the chasing pack to catch up with them.
“Of course we have to be worried because in those four games we had planned to get maximum points. We haven’t achieved that and now we have to go back and plan again and see whether we can bounce back in the next game which is an away match,” the tactician stated.
He added; “We believe that we can stretch the lead again and of course there is an opportunity for us to compete.”
Mathare began the season in emphatic fashion, carrying an enviable unbeaten run which was however broken by Mount Kenya United in Nakuru in the 11th round. However, Tuesday’s loss at the hands of Sofapaka was damaging.
“I think honestly today we had a poor game. I did not see my team. We really struggled at the beginning and it became difficult after we conceded an early goal and it was hard to get our composure back after being three goals down,” the tactician admitted.
A goalkeeping mess in the second minute saw Elli Asieche break the deadlock for Batoto ba Mungu before Titus Achesa and Umaru Kassumba made it 3-0 by half time.
Batoto ba Mungu’s pressing and quick transition in attack made it difficult for Mathare whose charge was further weakened with the absence of top scorer Cliff Nyakeya.
“Every player who adds more value and lots of influence, you always need him. When you don’t have him, sometimes it becomes difficult for the other players to accept a new link,” the tactician stated.
Meanwhile as Kimanzi and his Mathare side rue their recent run that has put their title credentials sharply in focus, Sofapaka are building their own confidence and after a horrendous start to the campaign, they are now considered as possible heirs to Gor Mahia’s throne.
The victory, Sofapaka’s fifth in six games saw them move to third in the standings with 23 points, just three short of the leaders.
“We cannot be satisfied with this result. I still want more from them and the journey still continues. It was important to get this victory especially against a team that’s ahead of us. We have been doing well and the goals have been flying in training so the team is getting that confidence back,” Baraza who took charge after the departure of Melis Medo stated.
“It has been about the relationship with the players and the understanding we have with each other. The attitude they have shown has been superb and we are performing on the field,” the tactician further stated.
Baraza believes the confidence they have picked up after Tuesday’s performance will spur them on ahead of Saturday afternoon’s duel when they clash against the defending champions in Machakos.
A further victory against Gor will instill more confidence on the side that they are an outfit that should be seriously considered for the title.