When Kariobangi Sharks were promoted to the Kenyan Premier League at the end of 2016, optimism abounded in the slums of Kariobangi that they had a team of their own, which was not only going to rub shoulders with the elite, but also knock the best of them off their perch.
The third place finish in their debut season in the topflight league and a run to the finals of the SportPesa Shield knockout tournament was a testament of how rosy the future looked.
All that now pales in the shadow of the club’s worst run of results in recent memory. The loss to Mathare United on Sunday was the fourth time Sharks tasted defeat in succession and few can put a finger on what exactly ails William Muluya’s side.
Die-hard fans point out to an identity crisis within the team as the local lads continued to be jettisoned out of the club. Though that could be a factor, it certainly is not the main reason. The club lost three of the front-men who helped them finish third including top scorer Masoud Juma, Kenyan international Ovella Ochieng and Matthew Odongo and have struggled to make up for the loss of over 20 top flight goals.
Surely, any side would struggle to fill such a gaping hole. Lying eighth with 34 points, Sharks are closer to the bottom of the table than the top in terms of point difference. Coach Muluya could not bring himself to explain his side’s dismal run when contacted yesterday promising to indulge later. Sharks’ woes, however, need to be resolved now if the negativity is not to spill over into next season. Thika United’s problems, on the other hand, are far worse. They find themselves bottom of the SportPesa Premier League table with 20 points, six adrift of safety.
Sunday’s 3-1 home loss to fellow relegation strugglers, Wazito, was another low point for a founding member of the Premier League. It’s hard to see where they will get the points to launch another great escape after beating the drop for the last couple of seasons. With the three points, Wazito grabbed themselves a lifeline in their quest to retain their place in the top tier league.
Fellow debutantes, Vihiga United, also enhanced their chances if survival with a plucky 1-0 victory over high-flying Sofapaka. Amos Kigadi’s goal took their tally to 26 points.