Six matches were played on the opening weekend of the 2017 SportPesa Premier producing an astonishing 20 goals, that is, a healthy average of just over three per game. Defending league champions Tusker were stunned by exciting newcomers Nzoia Sugar as former champs Gor Mahia taught upstarts Kariobiangi Sharks a tough lesson playing at this level.
Francis Kimanzi (Mathare United coach): “When we finished the recruitment process I kept thinking that ours is a squad of very young players out to learn the ropes on the rigors of this league, but today they have showed maturity, and I can see a lot of potential in them (beat Thika United 3-2). Our defensive organization today was not up to scratch and I cannot blame the goalkeeper only. We have to do more in the next match but I believe that the players will improve as time goes by. This is a team with huge potential.”
Marcelo Ferreira (Gor Mahia coach): “We are here to win games (beat Kariobangi Sharks 3-1). We have no other task. Congratulations to my team, I think they played extremely well today. All the other teams when they play against Gor Mahia they want to run, run and run, and that is why we did a lot of endurance training in preseason. They (Sharks) did the same thing. They kept breaking into runs but we contained them and the result was what you saw. An exciting fast-paced match with us on top of things.”
James Nandwa (Thika United coach): “This is a completely new team and in matches like these you have to try everything (lost 3-2 to Mathare United). Our goalkeeper (Caleb Wafula) is particularly young and I think he did his best. He has great potential and other than that, we have two more goalies who are also quite talented. We are playing Tusker in our next match and can take encouragement from the way Nzoia United dismantled them.”
William Muluya (Kariobangi Sharks coach): “This has been a good experience (lost 3-1 to Gor Mahia). My players took long to familiarize themselves with the opponent and they only showed up in the second half. I think we needed this setback at this time in the season so that we can know what to expect for the remainder of the season, and how much effort to put in training so that we can be better prepared to fight for results.”
Goerge Nsimbe (Tusker coach): “To concede three goals from set pieces is quite abnormal for me, and as a team we have to go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong for us (lost 5-2 to Nzoia Sugar). Obviously we had expected to win the game considering our class and history but the opposite happened and my players were overwhelmed throughout the game. I do not know how. It is a good thing that was just the opening match. We will regroup and turn out differently next weekend.”
Paul Nkata (Bandari coach): “As a team we weren’t lucky to get friendly matches against big teams during preseason, so I am very happy that we managed to get three points here (beat Nakumatt 1-0). The town is happy with the win, but there is still a long way to go in the league and we have so much to improve on. So far, so good.”
Anthony Mwangi (Nakumatt coach): “We can’t let this result demoralise us (lost 1-0 to Bandari). The season has just began and we have several other chances to make things right and to improve our performance in this competition. And come to think of it, we did not do too badly. We held on well against a well-established side and only conceded that one goal from a concentration lapse. We are encouraged and can look forward to better outings.”