A solid Posta Rangers side host relegation threatened Vihiga Utd as the race for survival intensifies

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Vihiga United goalkeeper Morgan Ambuka (left) saves the ball under a challenge from Salim Abdallah of Nairobi City Stars during their premier league match at Nakuru Show Ground three weeks ago. The teams drew 0-0. Photo/PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE

Charles Thuku and Webster Nyandika 

To a layman, relegation-threatened Mathare United who are at the lower reaches of the Betking Premier League seems like a drowning man who is clutching on reeds in high seas in an attempt to save himself.

But looking critically at the statistics in the league standings since the 2020/21 season got underway, Mathare are one of the teams which have lost by the slimmest of margins, besides pulling off shock wins recently in the season and it would be premature to declare them as

relegation candidates.

Sample this: On June 16, a gritty Mathare lost 1-0 to Gor Mahia and followed it up with a similar slump against title contenders KCB nine days later.

On June 26, they succumbed 2-1 to Post Rangers and went ahead to be dispatched 4-2 by Kakamega Homeboyz on July 10.

Before then, there was a shocker when the ‘slum boys” edged out AFC Leopards, thanks to Eugene Wethuli’s strike.

And perhaps not done with their dumbfounding nature, Mathare later drew 0-0 with leaders Tusker before doing what appeared the unthinkable at the weekend by eclipsing Sofapaka 2-1.

If this is a team that is indeed facing demotion in the league for the first time ever since formation, then one should better think twice.

Looking at their latest performance, Mathare, who won their first and the only league titled in 2008, are in a renaissance of sorts in their quest to evade the big chop.

Despite being placed in the 17th position in the chart with 18 points, the team’s newly appointed coach Frank Ouna believes there is a chance of survival in the league.

As things stand, Mathare United are at the basement of the 17-team league with 18 points but have a game at hand, behind Vihiga who have accumulated 20 points and Western Stima who have 21 points.

The team, which shall end the league in the second last position amongst the three, shall earn the rights of playing in the play-offs against a National Super League (NSL) side to ascertain who shall

continue playing in the big-time action.

Ouna, who has previously handled Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars as a deputy tactician, is adamant that Mathare have the pedigree to survive the axe.

“Despite the rough patch initially in the league, I must say the players have been a shining light moving forward which is commendable.

The latest results are proof that hard work pays. I must say we’ll treat our remaining matches with the seriousness they deserve,” he said.

In a separate interview at the club’s official portal, Ouna said he is determined to reinvigorate the team, adding that the players have an unwavering passion to continue dining with the big boys in the league.

“I understand the task at hand and the only way to set things straight is to put points in the bag. That is why I was given the job. I know we can do it and improve on our situation because everything is

already there in place. The players at my disposal are more than capable of turning things around and there is still so much to play for,” said Ouna.

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