Juma: Clean sheet key to stopping Ulinzi

Mathare United defender Andrew Juma (right) vies for the ball with Bandari striker Wycliffe Ochomo during their Kenyan Premier League match at Ruaraka Grounds on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Mathare United defender Andrew “Roma” Juma is looking forward to lead the new-look defence to another clean sheet against Ulinzi Stars on Saturday at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.

Juma’s rise has been astronomical, the lanky defender has leapt from strength to strength in the three years he has been at the club and this season he has assumed a new role -- that of a leader who other young players in the team are looking up to.

Leadership

To put into perspective, first team regulars namely goalkeeper Allan Owiny, Johnstone Omurwa, Samuel Olwande and James Situma all left the club forcing Salim Ali to promote the youthful quartet of Job Ochieng, Harun Junior and Martin Ongori to the first team.

This left Juma as one of the senior members in defence, thrusting him into a leadership role that he knew would one day come and has embraced fully.

“It is something new to me I must admit,” said Juma who now has Junior as his central defence partner. “But I have embraced it completely because just like a child who grows to become a man, I have also grown as a player. I am also lucky that I have been at a club that is rich in history and quality and I know the transition will not be a problem.”

A barren draw against Bandari in Round One, was followed up by a 1-1 draw against Tusker with the brewers getting their goal via a penalty. This means that the new back four is yet to concede a goal in open play.

Capable

“Harun played a few games last season and his promotion to the first 11 is not a shock because I know what he is capable of. Our partnership is still in its infancy but the positives are a plenty. I will help him get to that level just as the other senior members of our team, the past and present, have done with me,” said Juma.

The soldiers present a litmus test for Salim’s youthful defence with last season’s top scorer Enosh Ochieng’ among the attacking cast.

“They are a quality side who possess last season’s top scorer in Enosh (Ochieng) as well as other top players and so we have to be at our best if we are to claim all three points. I have played against Enosh both at club level and national team level so I know him quite well but the most important thing is to focus on ourselves as a team. Every game is a chance to claim a win and the game against Ulinzi will be no different,” offered Juma.

The corresponding fixture ended in a barren draw last season at Kasarani.