Crucial fixture for Mathare United as the National Super League nears conclusion

Mathare United's Christian Kitamba dribbles past Mully Children Family's Kelvin Omondi

Mathare United's Christian Kitamba dribbles past Mully Children Family's Kelvin Omondi during their National Super League match at Ruaraka grounds on November 11, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Second-placed Mathare United eye victory over Vihiga Bullets on Friday at Dandora Stadium in Nairobi to keep their dreams of securing one of the two automatic slots to the Football Kenya Federation- Premier League (FKF-PL) alive.

As the season reaches its crucial stage with five matches left, the Slum Boys - who were relegated to the NSL last season - are looking to a quick journey back to the top flight alongside leaders Mara Sugar.

The Francis Kimanzi-coached outfit, on 68 points from 33 matches, were also chasing the second-tier title.

The top sides in the NSL league will earn direct promotion to the top tier, while the third-place finishers feature in a play-off against the 16th-placed team in the FKF-PL for the remaining promotion slot.

The title marathon has been reduced to a two-horse race after Naivas dropped to third after registering mixed results in their recent matches. It’s now a straight shootout between Mara Sugar and Mathare, separated by four points.

“Vihiga have been in this league for quite some time so you cannot underestimate them,” cautioned the former Harambee Stars coach, who also coached Tusker and Sofapaka.

“We want to take the title pursuit down to the wire, but Mara knows they can’t afford to lose, or draw a game in their remaining fixtures. All they need is to ensure that they win the remaining matches to clinch the title,” said Kimanzi, whose side will take on Nairobi United, Darajani Gogo, Mara Sugar and Mombasa Stars in their remaining fixtures.

Second consecutive win

Fourteenth-placed Vihiga Bullets will be eying their second consecutive win after edging SS Assad FC 1-0 at home in Ngong’ last Sunday.

In their last five fixtures, Bullets, who have 38 points, have registered two wins, two draws, and a loss, face Kisumu All Stars, Kajiado FC, Mombasa Stars and Mara Sugar in their next matches.

“We are anticipating a very tight clash because we shall be meeting a team seeking to qualify and win the league title,” said Vihiga Bullets coach Andrew Ongwae, who is targeting a top-10 finish.

Mara top the standings with 72 points and are on a 12-game unbeaten streak, winning 10 of the matches.

Mara have not tasted defeat since March 3 when they lost 1-0  away to Dimba Patriots.

Friday fixtures: Mathare v Vihiga Bullets (Dandora Stadium, 12noon).

Saturday: Mombasa Elite v Kibera Black Stars (Serani Sports Club/Mombasa County, 3 pm), Migori Youth v Silibwet Leons (Migori Stadium, Migori County, 1pm), Mulembe United v Naivas (Mumias Sports Complex/Kakamega County, 1pm), Kajiado FC v Dimba Patriots (Ildamat/Kajiado County, 3pm), Mully Children’s Family (MCF) v Gusii (Kenyatta Stadium/Machakos County, 1pm).

Sunday: Mombasa Stars v Rainbow (Serani Sports Club/Mombasa, 1pm), SS Assad v Luanda Villa (Ukunda Sports Club, Kwale County, 3pm), Mara Sugar v Nairobi United (Awendo Green Stadium, Migori County, 1pm), Darajani Gogo v Kisumu AllStars- Kenya Institute of Highway & Building Technology (KIHBT, Ngong, Kajiado County, 3pm).