Mathare United's renaissance continues, Sofapaka gored again

Tuesday March 15 2016

Eric Johanna of Mathare United dribbles the ball during their SportPesa Premier League match against Sofapaka at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 27, 2016. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |

Eric Johanna of Mathare United dribbles the ball during their SportPesa Premier League match against Sofapaka at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 27, 2016. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |  

By ISAAC SWILA
More by this Author

After a decade of underachievement, Mathare United have suddenly woken up from the slumber and are showing signs of challenging for the Kenyan Premier League title.

The “Slum Boys” last won the league title in 2008 and subsequent attempts to reclaim the gong have ended in miserable misses.

Besides the league conquest, the only other trophies under their name are two Domestic Cup titles won in 1998 and 2002.

However, this term, the Francis Kimanzi-coached boys have had a blistering start to their quest for the elusive title and their impressive repertoire in the last five matches has sent tongues wagging. Their 1-0 win over Thika United on Sunday shot them top of the log.

Five games played and the statistics look promising as they have chalked up three wins and two draws to rise to the summit of the league table on 11 points.

Besides having the highest points, Mathare have scored the highest number of goals at eight making them stand above second placed AFC Leopards, also on 11 points.

And with record champions, Gor Mahia stuttering, Tusker yet to find their footing and Sofapaka heading south, there is genuine believe in the club’s rank that they can last the distance and claim the coveted gong at the end of the term.

“Every team wants to push, and every coach ways to do better; the pressure will always be there but you have to manage it. Every week has been different but we want to do well,” head coach Kimanzi told reporters last week when he was unveiled as the inaugural winner of the Coach of the Month Award for his team’s heroics in the month of February.

Kimanzi also pointed out that the presence of influential voices in the team’s dressing room is helping his cause.

“At times you need leadership in the team. Players who can lead by example and Abich (Noah), Wise (George Owino) and Ndege (Obadiah) have been very committed. They have showed character and are giving absolutely everything.”

And indeed, February was a good month for Mathare, who stream rolled opponents, a highlight of which was the 5-2 crushing victory of wobbling Sofapaka.

Ndege, who has found a new lease of life under the Dutch-trained Kimanzi has been having a good run in the in front of goal bagging four league goals.

His predatory instincts, added to the energy of veteran set piece specialist Abich, team coherence and the enterprise of the reigning Midfielder of the Year Eric Johanna, will be crucial for the team if they are to last the distance.

Meanwhile, Sofapaka’s downward spiral continued with another Sunday defeat to Bandari which left them sitting just a place above the relegation zone.

K’Ogalo were held to a 2-2 draw by battling Nairobi City Stars while Sofapaka once again fell at home, at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos losing 0-1 to Bandari.

Thika United, who remain winless in five matches, are 15th while Sony Sugar are at the tail end of the 16-team table.