Five teams are tied at the top of the 2016 Sportpesa Premier League which enters matchday three this weekend with 6 matches on the cards.
Machakos Stadium will host half of the matches, starting with Saturday’s double header featuring Sofapaka against Mathare United and Nairobi City Stars versus Tusker. Other matches will be in Thika, Awendo and Mumias Complex.
Here are the top six things to look out for this weekend.
Can Mathare Finally Win at Sofapaka?
Sofapaka made their debut in the Kenyan Premier League in 2009 and went on to pull a major surprise by winning the league title. That same year, Mathare United, who they face this weekend, finished second, six points behind, a situation which could have been different had the Slum Boys stopped Batoto ba Mungu from completing a double over them. Since then, Mathare have had little success over Sofapaka who happen to be the big brother in this tie as they lead the head-to-head record 8-2, with four of their previous 14 meetings drawn. Francis Kimanzi’s side go into the early Saturday kickoff clash with a one point advantage over their hosts following last weekend’s results which saw Mathare beat Ushuru 1-0 while Sofapaka lost by a similar margin away to Muhoroni Youth. David Ouma’s side have never lost when playing host to the Slum Boys. The two sides drew in both their home and away legs last season which brought to an end a three-game losing run for Mathare in the tie. Will the visitors finally get one over their hosts in their 7th visit? We think so.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 14; Wins: Sofapaka 8-2 Mathare, 4 Draws
Last Meeting: Mathare United 2-2 Sofapaka
Kickoff: 3pm at Machakos Stadium, Saturday
Prediction: Mathare win
Nairobi City Stars’ Curse at the Bottom
It’s early days alright but Nairobi City Stars find themselves in a familiar territory; the relegation whereabouts. After starting their season with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Bandari, Bobby Ogolla’s side were dragged down to earth by Western Stima who scored two unanswered goals last weekend. It was City Stars’ fourth successive defeat at the hands of Stima and one that left the Kawangware side joint bottom heading into matchday 3. They host Tusker FC at what is essentially the Brewers’ home ground in Machakos in the second of a double header at the venue. Ebrimah Sanneh, who has since left, scored the solitary winner for City Stars when these two sides met in their second leg match last season, the first having ended 2-1 in favour of Tusker. Like City Stars, Tusker were beaten 2-0 by Ulinzi Stars last weekend and the Brewers will be looking for a quick response if they are to steam up their title quest. That the Soldiers would trim their defence to pieces was unexpected but that the Brewers struggled upfront is something their fans should get used to. Should the likes of Jimmy Bageya and Ezekiel Odera find the Brewers’ defence napping, City Stars could pull a second win on the bounce.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 14; Wins: Tusker 8-3 City Stars, 3 Draws
Last Meeting: Tusker FC 0-1 Nairobi City Stars
Kickoff: 415pm at Machakos Stadium, Saturday
Prediction: Tusker Win
Will Sony Reclaim their Dominance over Ushuru
Prior to Ushuru FC’s narrow 1-0 win over Sony Sugar in June last year, the Millers had won this tie for the previous three consecutive meetings. However, Moses Arita’s goal in the 32nd minute put paid to Sony’s chance of claiming a fourth win on the bounce. Leonard Odipo’s side host the fifth meeting, hoping they can rediscover their dominant run over the Taxman. There was little success for either teams on matchday 2 with Ushuru failing to hold on to their early lead in a 1-1 draw with Thika United, while Sony went down 1-2 to AFC Leopards. The winner of this tie has always done it with a clean sheet with Sony claiming a 1-0 result on two of their three wins while Ushuru also got a similar scoreline in their maiden win last season. Don’t expect a high scoring game, it’s not what this tie is made of.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 14; Wins: Sony 3-1 Ushuru, 0 Draws
Last Meeting: Ushuru 1-0 Sony Sugar
Kickoff: 3pm at Awendo Stadium, Saturday
Prediction: Sony Win
Focus on Ochomo once again as Muhoroni travel to Thika
Muhoroni Youth’s Wycliffe Ochomo somehow managed to put a controversial week behind him, netting the only goal in a 1-0 win over Sofapaka last weekend. The bully forward didn’t have the best preparation going into the match as the Kenyan Premier League disciplinary arm opened investigations against him over unbecoming behaviour following an incidence in their league opener against Posta Rangers. Ochomo’s involvement in the tie against Sofapaka was not expected but he seemed focused on the job at hand, scoring the only goal of the match. Ochomo and his teammates travel to Thika Stadium this Sunday, a ground they have failed to collect a point in four previous attempts. Thika had to dig deep to claim a point against Ushuru last weekend with coach Moses Irungu left grateful to his substitutes, Eugene Mukangula and Timothy Luda who played a big role as Kennedy Otieno hit the equalizer. They were 4-2 victors on this ground last season but suffered a 1-2 reverse away to Muhoroni and it would be interesting to see who wins this tie which has only produced a single draw in the previous eight meetings.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 8; Wins: Thika United 5-2 Muhoroni, 1 Draw
Last Meeting: Muhoroni Youth 1-0 Thika United
Kickoff: 2pm at Thika Stadium, Sunday
Will Homeboys bounce back after Bandari reality check
Kakamega Homeboyz made a resounding return to the Kenyan topflight by beating Western Stima 2-1 in their opener but they were no match for Bandari last weekend, the Dockers claiming an easy 2-0 win. Mike Mururi’s side have been on the cold since 2013 and while they edged Stima in the Western derby, the Bandari loss was a timely reality check. They host Chemelil Sugar who were bitterly unlucky in their 1-0 defeat against Mathare United, a match that Francis Baraza felt they dominated after falling behind to Daniel Mwaura’s goal. These two sides have only met twice in the league back in the 2013 where there were home success for both. A draw is written all over but Homeboyz will feel confident edging their visitors.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 2; Wins: Homeboyz 1-1 Chemelil, 0 Draw
Last Meeting: Homeboyz 2-0 Chemelil
Kickoff: 3pm at Mumias Complex, Saturday
Posta’s dream start up for Western Stima test
Posta Rangers may have just earned promotion back to the top division but that’s something you won’t notice when you watch them play. They easily dispatched Muhoroni Youth in the season opener and fought back to hold league champions Gor Mahia to a one-all draw last weekend. Zedekiah Otieno’s side fell behind early but finished so strong they must have felt they deserved more than just a point against Kogalo who were left grateful to keeper Jerim Onyango who was unbeatable until Gerson Likono’s late goal. The newcomers will be hoping to continue with their exploits when they face Stima who were a much improved side after the day one setback. Timothy Otieno will be back in contention for Rangers after missing last weekend’s clash against his parent club Kogalo and he will be gunning to add to his two-goal tally and make it three consecutive win for Posta against Henry Omino’s side.
Head-to-Head Record: MP: 6; Wins: Western Stima 3-2 Posta, 1 Draw
Last Meeting: Western Stima 2-3 Posta Rangers
Kickoff: 3pm at Machakos Stadium, Sunday
Prediction: Posta Win