Zoo, Mathare brace for FKF-PL fixtures congestion

Mathare United and Zoo Kericho will this week finally have a taste of competitive football for the first time since March last year, as round seven of the FKF Premier League gets underway on Friday.

The two clubs, who had their expulsion from the league overturned, will each play two matches within four days beginning Saturday as the schedulers bid to clear their backlog of six matches.

Mathare and Zoo refused to endorse the FKF-StarTimes Media broadcast partnership resulting in their dismissal from the league by the federation before the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) ordered their re-inclusion pending the determination of a case they filed.

“Yes, it is true, all along after our suspension we kept training for a marathon. On January 9 we will set off,” Zoo FC tweeted soon after confirmation of their clash against Bandari.

On their part, Mathare termed confirmation of their opening fixture against Sofapaka as a fulfilled desire in the New Year 2021.

“As we celebrated the New Year, we wished for most, if not all, our hearts’ desires to come true in 2021. It was confirmed that after much delay, Mathare United would finally be able to kick-off its topflight campaign almost two months after the 2020/21 season began. This is a perfect way to start off the year, indeed 2021 does look like the year we all hoped it would be,” posted Mathare on their official Twitter handle too.

The Salim Ali coached side wants to silence Sofapaka who have already played five matches, managing only four points out of the possible 15.

“Heart desire number two is now to kick-off the season with a win. The lads begin their campaign with an away trip to Wundanyi against Sofapaka.”

While Ali hopes for a winning start without anything major to learn from, from his team at least for the new season, newly appointed Sofapaka head coach Ken Odhiambo already knows where to fix after watching his side sharing spoils (1-1) with Tusker in round five.

“We gave away two points against Tusker because that was an easy goal we should have easily avoided. They were playing long balls, some quite traditional style but we failed to relax and play the ball in our own way. I have assessed the team, it’s good but we have to work harder in training and ensure we are more clinical when we create chances. We must start winning,” the Harambee Stars assistant coach said.

Odhiambo is under pressure to give his new employers a smile, having taken over from former Harambee Stars striker John Baraza who was sacked just after three matches into the season.

Coincidentally, Zoo’s opponents on Saturday, Bandari, will be led from the dugout by a new face in the team, Andre Casa Mbungo who was unveiled on Monday. Mbungo is taking over from Sofapaka’s Odhiambo, who ditched the Dockers just after three matches this season.

The Rwandese, whose Kenyan league terrain is not new having coached AFC Leopards last season before quitting due to financial distress in the club, is already promising heavens.

“We want to win the league, play in the CAF leagues and churn out a good number of our players for the national teams, both senior and the age-groups,” Mbungo summed up his mission at Bandari on his unveiling, promising to pick up from where the interim coach Twahir Muhiddin left.

Mbungo watched from the terraces over the weekend as Bandari switched off Western Stima 2-0, his task now being maintaining the momentum.

On Wednesday, Zoo will host Posta Rangers at the Green Stadium Kericho while Mathare will lock horns against champions Gor Mahia, winding up a busy round seven in the Premier League.