JAMES MAGAYI AND CHARLES THUKU
Atitanic battle is looming this weekend when the oldest club in Kenya AFC Leopards face title chasing Mathare United in a SportPesa Premier League fixture that promises fireworks in Machakos.
Leopards are hard-pressed to shake off a barren run of five losses in a row and climb out of relegation zone, while Mathare United hope to stem their recent slide and reclaim league leadership.
Whoever wins will definitely jump start their season and earn a much-needed reprieve. Mathare United, recently labelled as renowned league pace setters are eyeing a rebound after failing to win any of their last four games. A fixture of this magnitude is a motivator for Mathare players and coach Francis Kimanzi confirmed the importance of their victory.
“We started well in the first two months but failed to maintain the tempo in our last few matches. Playing a fixture like this is very good because it wakes the players up and I’m hoping to return to our winning ways,” Kimanzi said.
Ingwe’s performance has been utterly shameful and for a team that is placed at an unfamiliar second last position in the league chart, another loss will be tantamount to disaster.
As Leopards stalk Mathare, the team’s faithful will be hoping that the players under affable Rwandese tactician Andrew Casa Mbungo, live up to their promise of turning the tables to save the team’s face. Soon after their chaotic match against Ulinzi, experienced Leopards player Whyvonne Isuza said he could not comprehend why they have been losing yet the team has been playing very well.
“We would be worried if we are not creating chances. I personally attribute the defeats to bad luck and we’ll soldier on in our quest to change the fortunes,” said Isuza.
However, Leopards will be hard-pressed to beat Mathare who are seemingly poised to enter a new chapter, thanks to their free-flowing football. Further, Mathare, just like Leopards, owe their fans an improved performance after a dour 0-0 draw with Zoo Kericho in their latest fixture.
And while the likes of Isuza, Robinson Kamura and Yusuf Mainge hold key for Leopards, Mathare’s hopes lie on Harambee Stars call-ups Roy Okal and Sydney Lokale. In the meantime, Sofapaka will be hoping to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat by Gor Mahia when they come up against Kakamega Homeboyz at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.
Against Gor, Batoto Ba Mungu goal poachers including Umaru Kasumba, new Harambee Stars call-up John Avire and Stephen Waruru created chances and one hopes they will be a little bit kin in penetrating the hosts back line. In Mombasa, it will be race against time for table-topping Bandari to build a five-point lead when they clash Nzoia Sugar.
Bandari has lately been a pretty hard side to beat at their fortress in Mbaraki and whether Nzoia have the pedigree to tame them remains to be seen. Congolese striker Yema Mwana has literally been on fire for the dockers and this is one player who will need to be watched closely by Nzoia defenders.
In Awendo on Sunday, Western Stima who shockingly squeezed a point from Gor have a date with Sony Sugar as basement side Mount Kenya United entertain Zoo in Machakos.