Mathare United will be looking to preserve their unbeaten run in the Kenyan Premier League when they face Tusker FC this weekend. The Saturday afternoon encounter will see the Slum Boys play away to the 11-time KPL champions at the Ruaraka Stadium.
Francis Kimanzi’s charges once again proved to be Gor Mahia’s Achilles heel last Sunday as they extended their unbeaten run against the champions to five league matches, with their last defeat against K’Ogalo dating back to October 2016.
Gor appeared resolved to end their jinx against Mathare by starting the match at full throttle, putting Kimanzi’s side under the cosh with relentless waves of attack for the opening 15 minutes. Enjoying the lion’s share of possession and in control of the match, Hassan Oktay’s side could have grabbed an early lead were it not for the individual brilliance of Mathare goalkeeper Allan Owiny; the deadline day signing the busiest man on the pitch that afternoon.
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The champions nonetheless couldn’t be denied for long, as they finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute through Jacques Tuyisenge. Owiny, who had thus far been impressive between the sticks, gave away a penalty after bringing down Gor midfielder Lawrence Juma inside the box; a move that cost his side as Tuyisenge sent the former Sony Sugar shot stopper the wrong way to hand K’Ogalo the lead.
Mathare, however, restored parity 11 minutes later through a venomous strike from the spot by Kevin Kimani after James Situma was felled in the area.
Although the remainder of the match was a non-event as both sides opted for caution over adventure, the biggest attraction of the second half was the return of Dennis ‘The Menace’ Oliech.
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Having spent much of his prime with French sides Auxerre, AC Ajaccio and FC Nantes before a stint in Qatar with Al-Arabi, the veteran striker returned to the Kenyan Premier League for the first time in well over 15 years to a warm reception, coming in for Nicholas Kipkirui midway through the second half.
Although he didn’t mark his return with a goal, it was by all accounts a special match for Oliech, as the veteran striker played against Mathare United — the club that not only discovered him as a teenager but also made him a star.
The 1-1 draw means that Mathare maintained their place at the helm of the league, level on 14 points with dark horses Western Stima.
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Tusker toppled Sofapaka in a five-goal thriller to temporarily go top of the table during last weekend’s early KPL encounter. Batoto ba Mungu made the perfect start as they took the lead in the 40th minute through a low drive by John Avire, but two quick-fire goals by forward Timothy Otieno and substitute Paul Kamau left Melis Medo’s side with a reluctantly embraced feeling of defeat.
The Brewers put the result beyond reach when they added a third through Justin Omary, so much so that the defender’s own goal towards the tail end of the encounter proved nothing more than a consolation for Sofapaka.
Defeat for Sofapaka means Batoto ba Mungu have yet to win a match since their 2-1 triumph over Mount Kenya United on the opening day of the season.
Tusker FC vs. Mathare United betting predictions
Mathare have won on four occasions and drawn twice so far in the league whereas Robert Matano’s side has won four, lost one and drawn once after six matches; the Slum Boys a paltry point ahead of the 2016 champions.
Kimanzi and Matano are two of the most intricate and astute domestic coaches to have graced the game and both tacticians will be looking to get the better of the other in a year that may tellingly, yet refreshingly, present one of the most open title challenges in recent years.
Tusker FC vs. Mathare United recent results
Tusker 2-2 Mathare United (September 23, 2018)
Cliff Nyakeya 33’
Timothy Otieno 42’
Cliff Nyakeya 60’ (P)
Sydney Ochieng 82’
Mathare United 1-0 Tusker (April 8, 2018)
John Mwangi 45’
Tusker 1-0 Mathare United (September 17, 2017)
Wahome Lloyd 79’
Mathare United 0-2 Tusker (May 20, 2017)
Michael Khamati 1’
Shafik Batambuze 73’
Mathare United 0-2 Tusker (August 6, 2016)
Clifford Alwanga 4’
Allan Wetende 54
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