Crest-fallen fans as Mathare Utd are bundled out

Published on 14/02/2009

By Mutwiri Mutuota

Forget that Mathare United were stuffed 5-1 on aggregate by Zambia’s Zesco in their CAF Champions League preliminary tie and focus on the positives.

Kenyan football is back in vogue for long suffering supporters who have endured more than a decade of decadence in the local game.

The match, staged at the newly christened Coca-Cola Stadium or Nyayo Stadium to the old timers on Valentine’s Day, saw a bevy of beautiful women among the sizeable crowd that thronged Kenya’s second football cathedral.

Gone are the days when a trip to a local football arena meant facing hooliganism and running battles. There was even the kind gesture of giving them red roses to celebrate the day set aside for those struck by Cupid’s arrow.

Mathare needed at least two goals to harbour hopes of advancing to the next round but the joyous locals were instead forced to witness their funeral procession out of the Champions League from the 13th minute, the unlucky number for many.

Defensive lapse

That was when lanky Zesco striker, Enock Sakala capitalised on a defensive lapse by stand in Mathare captain, Edgar Ochieng to lob the ball over a static Martin Munyasia in goal to give the away side a 1-0 lead on the day and 3-0 on aggregate.

From then on, Mathare fans sat in dejected silence as a handful of Zesco supporters, mostly students at Nairobi’s Catholic University of East Africa got to full flow.

“Our team will do well in the next phase, they are playing so well,” Michael Mumba, originally from the Zambian tourist town of Livingstone agreed as he swayed to reggae beats from the stadium entertainment system at half time.

“I am positive about Zesco. The way they are playing means that Zambian football is going up,” his compatriot Joseph Mutemena agreed. Zesco coach Fighton Simukonda, was friendly in victory.

“Mathare have tactical discipline but we were better. They insisted in playing pleasing football to the crowd and we came here to finish them off and took our chances,” the Zesco trainer opined.

“As we had promised, we came to finish our job and there is no such thing as home advantage. We have to go back to the drawing board to prepare for the next match.”

Opposite number

His opposite number, Francis Kimanzi, who sat pensive at the dugout as his team were caught out when Sakala notched his double before Clifford Chipalo, confirmed the result with a third at the death was magnanimous in defeat.

“I had no choice but to send out my team to attack. The first goal dealt the players a psychological blow but these things happen in football. In a competition like the Champions League, you need a favourable result from the away leg that we did not get.

“They caught us out in counter-attacks and succeeded. For us now, it is making a big effort to return to the competition next year.

This was Zesco’s second year in the competition and after going out in the first round last time, they returned to make another step. That is what we shall strive to do,” a calm Kimanzi told reporters.

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