Mathare, Stima early leaders in title race

first_img0Shares0000Mathare United midfielder Kevin Kimani wheels away in celebration after scoring the opener against Posta Rangers in a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on December 29, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 3 – Mathare United, champions in 2008 and Western Stima have emerged as the early front-runners towards the 2018/2019 Kenyan Premier League title with both sides picking up a positive start.Mathare have been on a run of five winless games, winning four and drawing one of their opening fixtures. They have accumulated two more points than they had after the same number of matches last season where they have won three and drawn two. Though silently not wanting to be dragged into title talk, Mathare boss Francis Kimanzi is keen to see the side break a thirst that has seen them wait for silverware since a decade ago when they won their only league title.The Slum Boys look more convincing and assured than they did last season and signs that the young squad has finally come of age are visible.“There are areas we worked on, tactically and technically, but bigger was the mental issue which has improved this time,” coach Kimanzi said.One member of the squad who has been a standout performer is attacking midfielder Cliff Nyakeya who is continuously showing that his 2018 midfielder of the year award was not just but a fluke.Nyakeya has scored in all of Mathare’s matches this season save for the drab 0-0 draw with Ulinzi Stars and stands top of the goal scorers’ chart with four goals.-Western Stima remaining humbleWestern Stima players line up before their match against Sofapaka at the Kenyatta Stadium in Kisumu on January 2, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluMeanwhile, Western Stima who returned to top flight football after serving one season in the cold of the National Super League have also started well, picking three wins and two draws to accumulate 11 points.However, coach Paul Ogai has preferred to remain calm in the face of the good start, saying the team’s sole target is to remain in the league.“We learnt many bitter lessons from our relegation in 2017 and if you look at how the fans turn up in our home games, we would not want to disappoint them by dropping down again. Our target is to remain in the league and that is what we are working on,” Ogai said.Stima were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Sofapaka at their Moi Stadium backyard in Kisumu, their second consecutive draw after a similar result away to Bandari in Mombasa.-Gor bouncing backMeanwhile, as the two continue to give good results in the opening lap of the season, holders Gor Mahia seems to be slowly crawling back after a slow start.Gor Mahia striker Jacques Tuyisenge congratulates Boniface Omondi after his goal against Chemelil Sugar in a Kenyan premier League fixture at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on January 2, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond MakhayaA loss to Kariobangi Sharks last weekend putt some speed bumps on the journey to their title defense but they bounced back on Wednesday with a 2-0 beating of Chemelil Sugar.New tactician Hassan Oktay is not worried despite the slow start and says he is confident the team will soon find its rhythm.“I am happy with how we are doing because we are playing well and creating very many chances. We just need to improve on scoring but I am not worried,” the tactician further stated.With the result, Gor moved to ninth in the standings with six points, seven behind early leaders Mathare. But, Gor have chance to cut that lead to size when the two sides clash on Sunday afternoon at the Kasarani Stadium.-Tusker showing signs of potentialAnother side that has quietly romped into a good start is Tusker FC under the apt tutelage of Robert Matano.Tusker FC players celebrate one of their two goals against Vihiga United in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Ruaraka Complex on January 2, 2018. PHOTO/Tusker FCThird placed Tusker are on a run of three consecutive wins having picked up maximum points against Mount Kenya United, KCB and Vihiga United to move to 10 points at this stage of the season.The brewers who last won the title in 2016 are looking to gain that tag of champion and with Matano having led them to a third spot finish after picking them up from the doldrums of relegation is keen to clinch his second league title with the brewers.Tusker is among the top two scoring sides in the league thus far as they have scored nine goals, just like Mathare and have conceded only three.“We are improving game by game and the thing now is to be consistent with results,” Matano says of his side’s start to the new campaign.-Sofapaka yet to stamp authorityTusker FC head coach Melis Medo passes instruction to defender Mousa Omar during their Kenyan premier League match against Western Stima at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu on January 2, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluMeanwhile, Sofapaka’s hunt to find both their feet firmly on the ground has continued after picking up a third successive draw in their away trip, playing to a 1-1 draw with Western Stima in Kisumu.Batoto ba Mungu erstwhile drew 2-2 with both AFC Leopards and Ulinzi Stars and head coach Melis Medo is continuously growing frustrated with the side’s blunt attack.“We create chances, but we just can’t score,” the tactician has continuously lamented. Sofapaka have six points off three draws and a win but while Medo might be concerned about the team’s forward line, he has to be equally worried of the defense.Sofapaka have conceded the second highest number of goals this season (eight) and only Mount Kenya United and KCB both perched at the bottom of the table have conceded more (10).It is an area he has to address especially noting that apart from Stima’s game on Wednesday, his side has scored first in all their first four games and lost one, drawing three and winning one.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more


first_imgWinner: Nora StapletonNiamh Briggs accumulated 18 points as Ireland outfought and outfoxed a physical USA team to begin the Women’s Rugby World Cup in winning style with Donegal’s Nora Stapleton putting in a great performance for the Irish in Paris.Tries from prop Ailis Egan and star full-back Niamh Briggs sandwiched a Lynelle Kugler effort as the girls in green led 20-10 at half-time in muggy Marcoussis.A Carmen Farmer try brought the Americans back to within three points, but Briggs’ 60th-minute penalty proved to be the last score of an end-to-end Pool B opener with another Donegal player Larissa Muldoon on the replacements bench Although the US had won the sides’ last meeting 40-3 at the 2010 World Cup, Philip Doyle’s Ireland side have certainly kicked on since then – as evidenced by last year’s Grand Slam success.Briggs slotted a third minute penalty to give them an early lead here, Ireland getting off to a strong start on the back of a Claire Molloy-won lineout.But Doyle’s charges allowed the USA a foothold when they lost ruck possession near their 22 and Grace Davitt infringed at a subsequent ruck. The Americans turned down a kickable penalty and although their powerful lineout maul was stopped, flanker Kugler found space close in to score the opening try.Kimberly Rozier converted for a 7-3 scoreline but the scores continued to come at a rapid rate, Briggs splitting the posts in the 11th minute with a penalty from a similar distance to her first. The influence of the American set piece increased towards the end of the first quarter, but Siobhan Fleming got in to disrupt a lineout in her 22 and a follow-up choke tackle relieved the pressure.Clean possession was at a premium with the tackle and breakdown area fiercely competitive, while a promising break by Ashleigh Baxter was well defended.On the plus side, Ireland’s maul was beginning to look a potent weapon. The pack built momentum with three well-constructed drives, however half-backs Tania Rosser and Nora Stapleton were unable to unlock the US defence.The Irish forwards kept pressing and a 29th minute maul – outside the American 22 – led to lock Sarah Walsh being sin-binned. Opportunity knocked from the penalty and they needed no second invitation as Sophie Spence was hauled down short before Egan, with support from her front row colleague Gillian Bourke, plunged over from the ruck.Briggs’ successful conversion gave Ireland a 13-7 lead. The six-point buffer was a brief one though as hands in the ruck from openside Molloy earned her ten minutes in the bin and Rozier took the three points on offer. However, Ireland struck for their second try just before the interval as turnover ball from a lineout led to strong carries from Egan and Spence, who consistently punched holes in the defence, and a final pick-up at a ruck from Briggs saw her wrestle past two American defenders for the score.The Waterford woman converted her own try to put 10 points between the teams at the break, but again the US were quick to respond early in the second half.Barely a minute had elapsed when American lock Farmer muscled over from a couple of metres out. Number 8 Heather O’Brien had fumbled the restart, allowing the US to build immediate pressure from a scrum. Rozier added the extras for 20-17.Ireland’s error count increased as they coughed up ruck ball and the usually reliably Briggs let a high ball slip through her grasp, however Alison Miller did well to bring down the dangerous Vanesha McGee. There was little between the teams in a tight third quarter. Crucially though, centre Jenny Murphy made a terrific impact off the bench with two forceful runs – the second seeing her link well with Rosser off another muscular maul from the pack.The same attack led to USA replacement Shaina Turley picking up a yellow card close to her try-line and Briggs mopped up with a well-struck penalty right on the hour mark.Ireland were now back in the ascendancy as Baxter and the tireless Lynne Cantwell caught full-back Meya Bizer in possession. They had a tight grip of territory as they forced hurried clearances from the Americans with 15 minutes left.Briggs slid a drop goal attempt wide as Ireland tried to move clear by more than a converted try, entering the closing stages.Their greater experience showed as they continued to control territory and a hard-won victory was theirs, albeit with Briggs missing a last-gasp penalty which would have denied the US their losing bonus point.Next up for captain Fiona Coghlan and her team-mates is a fascinating first ever clash with New Zealand on Tuesday. The Black Ferns, who are the defending champions, overwhelmed Kazakhstan 79-5 earlier today.Said Coghlan: “There are aspects we need to improve on and we’ll look at that going into the New Zealand game.“But I think when you’re down, the ability to come back, go down and again and come back, that shows what this team is made of and the character that’s in the team.“Particularly in the last 10-15 minutes, we were all on the same page and everyone knew what we had to do in order to get the win. We’ll take great heart from this win.”USA: Meya Bizer; Vanesha McGee, Akalaini Baravilala, Emilie Bydwell, Sadie Anderson; Kimber Rozier, Jocelyn Tseng; Hope Rogers, Katy Augustyn, Jamie Burke, Carmen Farmer, Sarah Walsh, Jillion Potter, Lynelle Kugler, Kate Daley.Replacements: Kittery Wagner, Sarah Chobot, Sarah Wilson, Sharon Blaney, Shaina Turley, Deven Owsiany, Hannah Stolba.Ireland: Niamh Briggs; Ashleigh Baxter, Lynne Cantwell, Grace Davitt, Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton, Tania Rosser; Fiona Coghlan, Gillian Bourke, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Siobhan Fleming, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien.Replacements: Sharon Lynch, Fiona Hayes, Laura Guest, Paula Fitzpatrick, Larissa Muldoon, Jenny Murphy, Jackie Shiels.STAPLETON TASTES SUCCESS AS IRELAND SEE OFF USA IN WOMEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP was last modified: August 2nd, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:IrelandLarissa MuldoonNora StapletonUSAWomen’s rugby world cup 2015last_img read more