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February 19, 2018

Stima in trouble

Kariobangi Sharks' Humphrey Okoth vies for the ball with Sofapaka's Duke Obuya
Kariobangi Sharks' Humphrey Okoth vies for the ball with Sofapaka's Duke Obuya

The day of reckoning is fast approaching for struggling Western Stima after they slipped back into the two automatic relegation slots following last weekend’s run of results. Stima fell 2-1 at home to Sony Sugar and that result, coupled with Thika United’s crucial point against run-away leaders Gor Mahia, meant that the Kakamega-based side moved down to seventeenth by virtue of an inferior goal difference to Thika.

It’s not like Stima find themselves where they are by surprise. Signs have been there since the start of the season that this was going to be a difficult campaign. Defeats against sides they would have, in previous years, beaten at home were peppered over by major victories against Gor and AFC Leopards.

Those two results account for the measly return of five wins in 25 matches and might have masked the underlying problems within the side, which culminated with last weeks ‘demotion’ of long serving coach Henry Omino, who was replaced by Ugandan Richard Makumbi. Another side who have also had it coming from day one are Muhoroni Youth, who remain bottom of the table with 20 points. Sunday’s 3-1 defeat away to promoted Nzoia United was the 17th time they had lost this season. Luke Namanda, Lawrence Juma and Victor Omondi scored the goals that ushered Muhoroni closer to the relegation door with Maxwell Onyango grabbing an equaliser.

This worrying trend of established Premier League side suddenly fighting for their top flight status is continued by not only Thika but also by Mathare United, who are just three points away from the danger zone. The Slum Boys lost 1-0 to Tusker leaving them fourth from bottom and should either of Stima or more likely Thika string together a good run, the proud history of the club would suffer an indelible blot of relegation.

At the opposite end of the SportPesa Premier League standing are Gor Mahia, who are still nine points clear after the top five teams all played out goalless draws this past weekend. Sofapaka remain their closest challengers followed by surprise contenders Kariobangi Sharks, Kakamega Homeboys and four-time league winners Ulinzi Stars.

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