Former Harambee Stars assistant coach Frank Ouna [Courtesy]

Former Harambee Stars assistant coach Frank Ouna was yesterday appointed Mathare United’s new head coach after Salim Ali was sacked alongside his assistant Patrick Gitagia.

The club’s management opted to make the changes in a bid to save the team from relegation.

Ali, who took over from current Wazito coach Francis Kimanzi in 2018, has endured a difficult campaign this year.

The Slum Boys are at a risk of being relegated at the end of the 2021 Football Kenya Federation Premier League season after failing to win their 14th match of the campaign as the local football league resumed over the weekend under strict Covid-19 protocols after seven weeks out.

In his last match, Mathare played out to a 0-0 draw with Vihiga United, a result that left them bottom of the premier league standings with seven points.

Mathare United CEO Jectone Obure said they had to take the drastic change for the sake of the team’s future.

“We had to make some changes. The team has not been performing well this season and we made a tough decision to let Salim, our former player who has grown through the ranks, to go because of the poor results,” Obure said.

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Salim will now be replaced by Ouna, whose major responsibility is to ensure the team survives the axe.

“Ouna takes over with immediate effect. He is a great coach whom we believe will help the team get out of the relegation zone and stay in the top league next season,” added the CEO.

Former Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson will also be part of the new-look bench as a technical advisor. 

“I want to thank the leadership of Mathare United for giving me this opportunity to work at this great club,” said Ouna.

“My goal is to do everything within my powers and help keep Mathare in the top league. With all the knowledge and experience I have gained in my 12-year coaching career, I believe we can get positive results.”

Despite enjoying a two-game in hand advantage, the former Gor Mahia assistant coach has a huge task ahead with safety only assured if they leapfrog either Western Stima or Vihiga United, who are five points ahead of them having played two games more in the 17-team league.

To start off their push for survival, Ouna will face fourth-placed KCB who are pushing to compete for the title today before tackling in-form AFC Leopards at the weekend.

“I cannot predict what I can or cannot do ahead of KCB match. We have had only one session and therefore the challenge to my players is to show me how much they can fight. We start as underdogs, but size counts for nothing,” said Ouna.

Prior to his sacking, the former Ulinzi Stars tactician had led the team in 14 matches where he managed one win, four draws, and nine losses. 

Out of the 14 matches played, the Slum Boys have only registered one win against Nzoia Sugar in a 1-0 win they bagged in February 8.

They would have had two wins but their 2-0 victory over Zoo FC in January was scrapped following Fifa’s May 4 decision to relegate Zoo FC to Division One after finding them culpable of match fixing.

This leaves Mathare with seven points from their one win and four draws after losing nine matches to Sofapaka, Gor Mahia, Ulinzi Stars, Tusker, Bidco United, Nairobi City Stars, Kakamega Homeboyz, Posta Rangers and Kariobangi Sharks.

Mathare was founded in 1994 to help youth and their families escape poverty in the Mathare slums.

They won the 1998 Presidents Cup, the same year they were promoted to the then Kenya Premier League.

They won their first and only league title during the 2008 season.

The 2008 champions’ story in the top league might just be over this year but it remains to be seen if this will be the case at the end of the campaign especially with the change of guard. 

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