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Stakes high for new Mathare coach Okumbi

[Posted 06 Jul 2012]
[By Charles Malingha]
Stakes high for new Mathare coach Okumbi

Mathare Unitedís charge away from the Kenyan Premier League drop zone continues when they take on Thika United at the Nyayo National Stadium as Sofapaka look to defeat Muhoroni Youth to move joint top with champions Tusker in Fridayís double header.

After their surprise 3-1 win away to Karuturi Sports two weeks ago, Mathare seem to be getting their rhythm under coach Stanley Okumbi who took over midway through the first leg from Gabriel Njoroge.

Okumbi has turned the club that was winless after five matches to regain confidence, and the performance against Karuturi was a pointer to the work he has done at the 2008 champions.

Inexperience, coupled with financial problems and indiscipline amongst some of the players, has cost Mathare so much in the first leg. The club also had to part ways with gifted international midfielder Jamal Mohammed.

"It has not been easy because the players were short in confidence, some of them were young, they had not played in the league.

"But now they are gaining and I do believe we will not be among the clubs going down at the end of the season," he said.

But Okumbi still needs to push his boys in the second leg. The 13th-placed Mathare, who have only collected 15 points from 16 games, must continue working hard.

They have only won thrice, drawn six time and lost seven-a poor return from a club that just four years ago were champions of the league.

Okumbi, though, believes players like Ken Ato, who returns to the squad after six months, and Francis Ouma will show the younger players some leadership in the second leg.

Against Thika, they come against a side that performed credibly in the first leg losing only three times and scoring 20 goals, the third best in the competition.

Thika were shock losers to City Stars at home two weekends ago and they will be looking to return to winning ways against Mathare. This is a game that promises to be explosive. It starts at 5pm.

Sofapaka, were woeful against AFC Leopards 10 days ago and deserved to lose even by a bigger margin than the 1-0 result.

Their defence line of Edgar Ochieng, John Njoroge, Abdalla Juma and  Eugene Asike could not contain Paul Were and it was only Leopards lack of ambition to score more than Sofapaka were let off the hook.

Thanks to that win, Leopards pocketed Sh180,000 from former Mumias Sugar CEO Evans Kidero while Sofapaka were left licking their wounds.

However they have an opportunity to make amends against a relegation threatened Muhoroni Youth at 7pm.

Coach Salim Ali has hinted at making changes in his backline and midfield today. "I will not make so much changes, but at least one or two players in the game against Leopards will be rested," he said.
A win for Sofapaka will see them go equal at the top with Tusker FC.

Fixtures: Tonight: Mathare vs Thika United (5.00pm, Nyayo); Sofapaka vs Muhoroni (7.00pm, Nyayo);

Saturday: Sony Sugar v AFC Leopards (Gusii), Oserian v Karuturi Sports (Naivasha) Chemelil v Tusker (Chemelil); Ulinzi Stars v Rangers (Afraha). Sunday: Gor Mahia v KCB (City) City Stars v Western Stima (City).



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