By Gilbert Wandera
Mathare United coach Salim Ali says his team will be looking to bounce back from a poor start to the season with a positive result against AFC Leopards on Thursday evening at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The match kicks off at 7pm and will be live on SuperSport and is one of the two Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches lined-up for on Thursday.
The other one is a clash between Western Stima and Sofapaka. Afc leopards
Ali has predicted that on Thursday will be the turning point for a club that has struggled to live up to their good performance in the previous years.
"We believe we can collect all three points today and end our poor show. We hope to start the second leg on a positive note and it will be important that we win not only today but also against Bandari at the weekend," he said.
Ali has also warned that the club risks being relegated if they do not sign at least two senior players in this transfer window.
"There is no short-cut to ending our poor start. If we do not get some senior players the results will be the same in the second leg," he warned.
He added: "Everybody is pointing out that we are having a bad season and they are right but one thing they forget is that in the last ten years we have always had quality players and even when they go we have managed to quickly replace them.
"What is happening this season is that we are losing quality players to our opponents without replacing them with the same calibre and unless we do something drastic we are in trouble.
"The players we have cannot give us the kind of performance we are looking for because they lack the experience to play at this level. We need the kind of players who can give us a consistent performance," he added.
Ali’s woes are unlikely to end with the Mathare management not keen on buying players from outside the Mathare Youth Sports Association.
Pressure will, however, be on both teams to turn around what has been a less than satisfactory season.
It has been a surprising season for Mathare, one that they would want to end quickly.
The club used to being among the top contenders in the KPL find themselves among the bottom in the standings and recently lost 2-0 to fellow tail-enders Nairobi City Stars.
On the other side, Leopards are doing no better and lost their last fixture 2-2 to Sony. Coach Nick Yakhama is a man under pressure to deliver. Former Nairobi City Stars forward Jimmy Bagaye is expected to play his first match for Leopards on Thursday and a score from him will be a positive way to start his AFC career.
Coach Ali will therefore be looking to turn around a poor season with a win over AFC.