The 2008 Kenyan Premier League, KPL, champions Mathare United is walking on a tightrope going to the 2013 season but the financial pressures are bearing down on them.
From their squad that featured last season,only eight remain as most of their key players have left for greener pastures.
Key departures were leading strikers Jesse Were to Tusker FC and Francis Ouma to Sony Sugar, goalkeeper Martin Musalia and captain Anthony Kimani to AFC Leopards and speedy winger Innocent Mutiso who is now at Gor Mahia.
The team has also been clouded by financial difficulties that even threatened to derail their campaign before kick-off.
They struggled for the better part of last season with players even downing their tools in demand for unpaid salaries and allowances and the same problem still seems to be hanging around their neck.
Club chairman Bob Munro confirmed to Sportsnewsarena.com that Real Insurance, their shirt sponsors since 2011, has come up with a new package that will run for a year but insists the team requires more support since its a community outfit.
“We are still calling on sponsors to come out and support this team. What we have is very little and cannot sustain our activities for a whole season,” he said.
A fresh start on the pitch
it will be a new beginning for the club that has lighted up the league for many years. They have been busy shaping up at the Goan Institute under head coach Stanley Okumbi who foresees a tough season ahead for his side.
“Losing almost the entire team is not an easy thing but we are concentrating on the task ahead.”
Accredited for engineering the club’s good run towards the end of last season when he took over, Okumbi employs a rather laid back approach concerning his side’s chances this season despite finishing among the top eight teams in their last campaign.
For that, the team will feature in the KPL Top 8 tourney that will be entering its third year. Okumbi says nothing, not even the big and monied teams, will intimidate his young and determined side.
“I will have to wait and see the type of opponents we will be up against before commenting on that.”
Experienced league players come in
Buoyed by their predicaments, the club was aggressive in the transfer window having spent KSh.145, 000 to buy new players and KSh.185, 000 in selling as per the figures released by the KPL.
The have brought in several talented youngsters from little known clubs who include Harrison Mwendwa from Indomitable Lions, Daniel Kiptoo from Soin Fluorspar, Godian Mumina from Korogocho FC and Orji Nameka who comes from Umoja.
A huge share of their players are drawn from the Nationwide League with Kariobangi Sharks quartet of Meshack Karani, Hillary Otieno, Geoffrey Shiveka and Vincent Likare, Fredrick Ochieng from Coastal side Magongo Rangers as well as Cornelius Mwangi who featured for Finlays Horticulture and Elisha Wagude from Nairobi Stima.
The slum boys did not compromise on experience when making the signings as some of their arrivals are from KPL clubs thus bring on board the experience of playing in the league.
David Ojwang from Chemelil Sugar, Ebrahim Omega formerly with Muhoroni Youth, AFC Leopards reject Emmanuel Tostao, Francis Oduor from Bandari and David Mwangi who arrived from Karuturi Sports.
Mathare has at the same time welcomed back two of their old boys in Edgar Ochieng from Sofapaka and Kevin Ochieng- dropped by Gor Mahia. From the remaining players, there is central defender Lloyd Wahome and new captain Dennis Nzomo who the coach expects to play a key role in the team.
They won the league title five years ago and participated in the continental leagues four times for dominating the Moi Golden Cup now turned FKF cup, bowing out at the preliminary rounds.