The start of the 2018 Kenya Premier League (KPL) new season is three weeks away, just two months after the conclusion of last season in mid November 2017. The schedule is tight as teams have been left with roughly five weeks of pre-season training and transfers, a situation that baffles Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi.
Comprising largely of young inexperienced players, United endured a disappointing 2017 campaign as they were involved in the relegation battle up until the last day when they secured a vital 2-2 draw with Posta Rangers to avoid the drop. The rest was needed, not only for Kimanzi’s youngsters but for all the teams in the top flight.
Heavy task for players
The 2017 CECAFA Senior Challenge tournament as well as the festive period had a toll on teams and players in terms of preparation for 2018 and Kimanzi feels the pressure will be felt by all heading to the season kickoff.
Speaking to Soka at the club’s pre-season base at the Goan Institute grounds, the former Tusker FC tactician lamented at the schedule; “Pressure increases for us and I know as well for other teams because the big challenge now is with how we manage this short pre-season. It is four weeks then competitive games within five, it is a big task for the players,” he said.
The former Harambee Stars coach also spoke of the players the club has roped in and his expectations for the season ahead, “We have tried to bring in a few players with league experience, some of whom have played for the big teams in the league.
Fatigue and Injuries
“Last season a couple of my players played extensively risking fatigue and injuries. That’s why I have bolstered on key areas that I felt we were short so as not to go through that again.”
Mathare starts the new campaign against league debutants and 2017 National Super League (NSL) champions Vihiga United on Saturday 3 February at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.