Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi has hailed the contribution of new signing Francis Omondi to his side’s terrific start to the Kenyan Premier League season. United are perched atop the standings with maximum points from their two games.Omondi netted the winner from the spot as Mathare, for the second game running, came from behind to beat Nzoia United 2-1 and maintain their early season momentum.Omondi, who was acquired in December 2017 from second tier side Modern Coast Rangers, is slowly becoming a fan favorite at the club and Kimanzi was equally impressed by his exploits against Nzoia.“That surprises a lot of us because he has the belief and we think Francis just needs good guidance. He has the capability and character to fight at the top level,” said Kimanzi of the prodigy.It was another great performance from his charges, who rallied from a goal down to clinch the 2-1 win in dramatic fashion.“The boys are showing some character because it’s the second game that we worked very well. It also shows that we have some maturity and depth in the team. We can always get better,” added Kimanzi after guiding his side to the top of the table.He also spoke glowingly of substitutes Daniel Mwaura and Chris Ochieng’, who made a telling contribution in the second half.“It is important for players to show that they are ready and sharp when they are needed. Mwaura and Chris showed it and it is great to have such players who can do a good job for the team when called upon,” assessed Kimanzi.Mathare’s championship credentials will face an even sterner test this weekend when they travel to Nakuru to face former champions Ulinzi Stars. The soldiers, who are sixth in the standings with six points lost their tie against Sony Sugar last weekend.Clinton Omondi’s strike proved to be the difference in an entertaining match played at the Green Stadium in Awendo.Newly-promoted side Green Commandos coach, Brenden Mwinamo, is disappointed that his team could not hold on to their 1-0 lead and begin their historic journey in Kenya’s second tier league with a win as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Coast Stima. Mwinamo, however, expressed optimism that the schoolboys are up to the task.“We conceded a very easy goal very late in the match, but that is the nature of football. We will go back and try to correct our mistakes,” said the Green Commandos coach.Coast Stima tactician, Kinero Swaleh, on his part, noted that the National Super League is quite physical, as compared to the Division One League, but further exuded confidence in his team ahead of this new challenge.“Our opponents were quite physical, and we are also set to travel a lot as opposed to last season. But my boys are ready to compete at this level,” said the coach.The hosts dominated proceedings early in the match, but could not find a way past an organized Stima defence. The first half ended in a 0-0 stalemate.Upon resumption, Green Commandoes survived a scare when Stima forward Muhiddin Muhiddin broke the deadlock only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.Green Commandos would then punish Stima less than 10 minutes later when Henry Atola received a through-pass, rounded up the goalkeeper before calmly slotting into an empty net.As the match seemed to be heading Green Commandos way, Stima won a free kick just outside the box, with five minutes left on the clock.Substitute Collins Kombo stood up to the task, sending a rather tame effort that the hosts’ goalkeeper, Seif Mwinyi, failed to handle, parrying it into his own net.Stima face Kisumu All-Stars in Mombasa on Saturday while Commandos will be up against Nairobi Stima at Karuturi grounds.It might still be early days in the season but the usual title contenders — Tusker, Ulinzi Stars — are already falling over themselves to get out of the championship race. It was always going to take a huge effort to challenge holders Gor Mahia for the title in what is Dylan Kerr’s first full season in charge. That challenge now will seemingly come from unlikely quarters with Mathare United now in the driving sit with maximum points from their two matches following yet another come from behind victory this time against Nzoia United.Francis Omondi was the hero for Mathare United as he converted an 83rd minute penalty to hand the team a hard fought victory against the visitors at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.George Mutimba had put Nzoia the lead at the half-hour mark and they maintained it until the 77th minute when Chrispine Oduor equalized for the Slum Boys. Omondi scored from the spot six minutes later to hand Mathare the crucial win. Gor, however, with a superior goal difference with just one game played can overtake them should they manage to pick all three points away at Zoo Kericho today. The champions started their CAF Champions League sojourn on a winning note and will be hoping to take that feel-good-effect to their league clash and send an early statement of intent to the pretenders to their throne. Jacqeus Tuyisenge, who has barely got a look in this season will likely be handed the responsibility of leading the search for goals against Zoo. Hat-trick hero on the opening day, Meddie Kagere, will also be keen to add to his goal tally while Ivorian Ephraim Guikan, who scored a stunning second in the 2-0 win over Leones Vegeteranios will be looking to make his domestic debut.After the disappointment of the home draw against Madagascar side Fosa Juniors in the CAF Confederations Cup on Sunday, AFC Leopards must channel their frustration to seeking a first league win of the season when they clash with Wazito. Leopards were held to a 1-1 draw, a result that left them needing to win away to keep their continental journey on track.Bandari and Chemelil Sugar, who fought out to a goalless draw are behind Mathare in second and third respectively with four points. Nzoia are bottom of the table with no point from two matches.Kenya Sevens received a shot in the arm after the government forked out Sh31m to foot players’ allowances and salaries. Sports Permanent Secretary, Peter Kaberia, said th money was wired to the Kenya Rugby Union accounts last week and will be on the various national teams after SportPesa terminated their sponsorship deal last month.Kaberia observed that they have forked out a further Sh3m to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Sh6m to the Boxing Association of Kenya for their recent trip to India. The three are part of the federations affected by SportPesa’s withdrawal.KRU had presented a Sh50m to the ministry for the national teams including the Kenya Sevens, Simbas, Kenya under 19 team and the women’s teams. However, the bulk of the Sh31m will go the Kenya Sevens who has six leg remaining on the 10-leg World Sevens Series including Las Vegas, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris.The team will also require additional funding for the Rugby World Cup Sevens slated for July 20-22 in for San Fransisco, California. Kenya are currently ranked eight on the World Sevens Series log with 35 points after four tournaments.The union expects to get a second tranche from the government at the start of April of a similar amount. Director of Rugby at Kenya Rugby Union Thomas Odundo said the union was still hunting for sponsorships for their various brands. “Sponsorships is something you don’t wake up and get. We have initiated a process. All we can we do now is wait and hope for someone to come on board as soon as possible,” said Odundo adding that funding is required for development, referees and secretariat .Odundo said he was delighted with the performance of the Kenya Sevens squad in the past two legs in Sydney and Hamilton and is hopeful that theyw ill continue with the same spirit in the remainder of the series.“The boys did a commendable job in very trying conditions and we salute their professionalism in both tournaments,” added Odundo.
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