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Pre-season favourites hope to reverse trend

Despite being considered bigwigs of sorts in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) Mathare United have a penchant of adopting a wait-and-see attitude ahead of every other new season.

And although Mathare have made what appears marquee signings ahead of the 2018/2019 season, the team’s coach Francis Kimanzi has downplayed the odd-on-favourites tag placed on his charges, saying that he would rather wait to see the input of the new players beginning with their season opening match against Chemelil Sugar tomorrow before making a formal remark.

“Yes, we have signed players who have shown a lot of promise in training, but I cannot ascertain at this point in time that they are up there. The SPL is challenging and it will give a true reflection of their capability,”said Kimanzi.

All along since the transfer window opened and closed, Mathare’s handlers have been coy to reveal which new players have entered a contractual deal with the team though impeccable reports indicate that former Sofapaka winger Kevin Kimani is destined to the team.

Kimani was part of the Mathare squad that lost 2-1 to Sofapaka in a last pre-season friendly at Goan Institute and going by the great character he displayed against his former employers, it seems he has already been snapped by the ‘Slum Boys’ who will seek for a second SPL gong after their maiden conquest in 2008.

Grapevine also has it that former Thika United player James Kinyanjui who is training with Mathare is also set to be in the books of the latter team.

Mathare have opted to keep faith on the same players who were part of Kimanzi’s brigade that finished eighth in the 2018 league, among them Cliff Nyakeya who was named the best midfielder in the Kenya Premier League awards in the season.

Others are Clifford Alwanga, Crispinus Oduor and ageless ex-national team goalkeeper David Okello.

Indeed, the optimism expressed by some of Mathare’s fast-rising players for the team to win titles, among them Nyakeya, is what seems to be the driving force in the team.

“We have a very good team and for the last two years we have gathered enough experience to compete with the top teams. I always want to improve every season and it is high time we step our effort as a team and contest for trophies,” offered Nyakeya.

When he made his debut for Mathare United on July 9, 2016, Nyakeya was largely an unknown player.

Replacing Edward Seda at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu, Nyakeya began his journey at Mathare United in the second leg match against Western Stima.

His debut had arrived just one month after joining from Gor Mahia Youth. It was a reprieve for the youngster after trying out unsuccessfully with Sony Sugar and Chemelil Sugar.

Mathare Chairman Bob Munro said the team has absolutely no reason not to perform given the sound remuneration to players, thanks in part by Oddibets sponsorship.

“The management wants the team to be second to none in the upcoming season and I believe this is possible,” said Munro while hinting that the November salaries owed to players were settled yesterday.

Out

Edward Seda, Samuel Ndung’u, Micheal Simiyu

In-Kevin Kimani, James Kinyanjui.

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