Voice of Sport

Kenya league football firmly back in ‘Stone Age’ as ‘open ground’ fixture leaves bad taste in mouth

Without “live” television coverage bad behavior becomes an everyday thing among players and perhaps coaches in a competition struggling in un attractive grounds round the country

Guns to settle football scores: Security forces had to move in with guns and tears gas at Moi Stadium Kisumu to settle the dispute after spectators went amok following Ulinzi Stars equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Gor Mahia on Saturday

2017 Kenyan Premier League:

Sun, July 2:

Tusker 0-1 Bandari – (Moi Kinoru Stadium, Meru)

Zoo Kericho 0-0 Mathare United – (Kericho Green Stadium)

Gor Mahia 2-2 Ulinzi Stars – (Moi Stadium, Kisumu)

Sony Sugar 0-1 Kakamega Homeboyz – (Awendo Green Stadium)

Posta Rangers 1-1 Chemelil Sugar – (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru)

Saturday, July 1:

Nakumatt 2-1 Sofapaka – (Tusker Village, Ruaraka)

AFC Leopards 0-2 Kariobangi Sharks – (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru)

Nzoia Sugar 0-0 Thika United – (Sudi Stadium)

Western Stima 1-2 Muhoroni Youth – (Moi Stadium, Kisumu)

How the shine has come off the Kenyan Premier League … this is Saturday’s fixture between no less 2009 champions Sofapaka and debutants Nakumatt at a desolate Tusker Village, Ruaraka in Nairobi

How the shine has come off the Kenyan Premier League … this is Saturday’s fixture between,  no less 2009 champions Sofapaka,  and debutants Nakumatt at a desolate Tusker Village ground in Ruaraka in Nairobi

GOR Mahia are back on top of the table, Mathare off the bottom, AFC Leopards keep hurtling down towards the depths and Sofapaka can be deeply disappointed about their mid-of-top-ten status. The Kenyan Premier League, coming very late towards the mid-of-season stage would appear to be thrilling but that is not the case.

The goings-on are unnerving. On the weekend Sofapaka, supposed to be one of the most charismatic clubs in the championships — and champions of 2009 to boot — were involved is a skirmish that would be put to shame by an ordinary high school fixture.

At the grotesquely sun-baked, windswept open ground of Tusker Village, Ruaraka in Nairobi (see shocking picture, above) Sofapaka played Nakumatt on Saturday. Before almost nobody on the stands, the yawning performance by the two teams only captured the headlines for the wrong reasons; Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa alleging that the referees’ decision not to declare a goal a ball put into the net by his team for what would have tied the game.

Meddie Kagere takes on Ulinzi Stars at Kisumu on Saturday

Meddie Kagere takes on Ulinzi Stars at Kisumu on Saturday

“Match-fixing”, read the headlines. And that is a serious allegation against Muhoroni’s surprise 2-1 win and a blot on a Sofapaka side that had said recruitment during the June transfer window would give them a cutting edge; especially as the previous week they had thrown in their new recruits to do a superb job, whipping Gor Mahia 2-0 in Meru.

Arguing about controversial decisions on matches played on unsuitable grounds and without “live” television coverage [withdrawn since the beginning of season’s exit of broadcast rights holders SuperSport International] throws the KPL back to a Stone Age organization. It was therefore not surprising also that the Gor Mahia v Ulinzi Stars at Moi Stadium Kisumu ended in scenes of 40 years ago; police tear gassing unruly Gor Mahia who claimed Stephen Waruru’s celebration of his strike for the brace that tied the match 2-2 was “provocative”. Perhaps. Waruru, KPL’s leading goal-getter this season was an utter idiot. Showing the “finger” to the people was a firm confirmation of what kind of a despicable character he is. Did he take advantage of jungle law, away from “live” coverage?

League’s top scorer Stephen Waruru (top) may be carrying the hopes of former champions Ulinzi Stars of the Kenya Defence Forces but opponents in Saturday match were not impressed with his celebration antics

League’s top scorer Stephen Waruru (top) may be carrying the hopes of former champions Ulinzi Stars of the Kenya Defence Forces but opponents in Saturday match were not impressed with his celebration antics

The league agonsingly plods on. The round of 15 would have been the half mark in a competition that was growing in the right direction since 2008 and with only 16 teams before two more were inject in a scenario of severely diminished sponsorship. It’s a complete financial struggle for organisers leave alone the clubs. Talk of TV partnership, albeit for a paltry fee compared to the SuperSport, is at the moment only “talk”; that the season will be covered from the halfway stage (round 18) when KPL signs a partnership with an undisclosed broadcaster tomorrow morning.

Sunday:

Gor Mahia 2-2 Ulinzi Stars

Stephen Waruru’s late double to give Ulinzi Stars the tie at Moi Stadium Kisumu would have been the thrilling closure to the match but instead it was the ugly scenes of police using tears gas to quell trouble making Gor Mahia supporters.

 They claimed that after the equalizer, Waruru abused them in his celebration. There match could not go through the final minutes.

Burundi international Karim Nzigiyimana gave Gor Mahia the lead in Kisumu but Ulinzi made a late recovery to tie 2-2

Burundi international Karim Nzigiyimana gave Gor Mahia the lead in Kisumu but Ulinzi made a late recovery to tie 2-2

Gor Mahia’s Burundian international Karim Nzigiyimana and Ulinzi defender Mohammed “Rio” Hassan’s own goal appeared to have put Gor Mahia well on course to a bounce back from last week’s 0-2 defeat by Sofapaka in Meru disappointment at Kinoru.

But Ulinzi’s resilience and Waruru’s double doused the spirits of the Gor supporters as the match came to the closing stages.

Off the bar

 Nzigiyimana’s efforts were rewarded with the opener in the 33rd minute with a calm finish off a cross from Kenneth Muguna on the left wing. He would have doubled matters almost immediately after that but his shot from the right ricocheted off the bar.

Going into the break a goal down, Benjamin Nyangweso threw his first replacement cards with John Kago and Omar Mbongi introduced just after the restart. But the tinkering with that defense first proved disastrous lot, a minute later “Rio” Hassan turning the ball into his own net in the 58th minute for Gor to lead 0-2.
But Waruru proved the assassin he is this season by bagging his ninth goal to pull one back for Ulinzi in the 78th minute. He later hit his second and league leading 10th from close range and spark chaos with his celebration gestures.

TEAMS:

GOR MAHIA – Peter Odhiambo: Haroun Shakava,  Wellington Ochieng’, Karim Nzigiyimana Joash Onyango, Kenneth Muguna, Ernest Wendo, Godfrey Walusimbi, Meddie Kagere, George Odhiambo, Jacques Tuyisenge

Coach: Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno – (Kenya)

ULINZI STARS – James Saruni: Brian Birgen, Mohammed Hassan, Geofrey Kokoyo, Cyrus Shitote, Olivier Rutto, Boniface  Onyango, Churchill Muloma, Samwel  Onyango, Daniel Waweru, Stephen Waruru

Reserves – Jacktone Odhiambo (gk), Ben Sande, John Kago, Moses Otieno, Enosh Ochieng’, Cliff Kasuti, Omar Mbongi

Coach – Benjamin Nyangweso – (Kenya)

Tusker 0-1 Bandari – (Moi Kinoru Stadium, Meru)

At Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, it was the turn of champions Tusker to show the inconsistency of teams in the entire league when they were beaten by long distance travelers Bandari.

Paul Nkata of Bandari relished the win over Tusker whom he led to an emphatic title win last season. It was not what Ugandan compatriot George “Best” Nsimbe was expecting from Nkata’s Coastal men who are now seventh on the table but not too happy after a good start to the season.

George “Best” Nsimbe (right) the Tusker coach was left with a bitter taste in the mouth after an acrimonious clash in Meru with fellow Ugandan Frank Nkata whose Bandari of Mombasa surprisingly won 1-0

George “Best” Nsimbe (right) the Tusker coach was left with a bitter taste in the mouth after an acrimonious clash in Meru with fellow Ugandan Frank Nkata whose Bandari of Mombasa surprisingly won 1-0

The two Ugandans were to look on as their teams almost came to blows in a hot tempered space of the second half. This resulted in the sending of two Bandari men, the 27th minute scorer Cosmas Lewis a Tanzanian import and Michael Luvutsi.

Lewis had found the net after getting on the end of a Duncan Otewa cross.

Sony Sugar 0-1 Kakamega Homeboyz – (Awendo Green stadium)

Ali Bai Ahmed struck in the first half for visiting Homeboyz in the only goal of the match, condemning the home side to remain without a win at Awendo this season.

….

Posta Rangers 1-1 Chemelil Sugar – (Afraha Stadium)

John Mwita’s first half goal gave Posta Rangers a well-deserved lead, but Chemelil Sugar fought back superbly to even matters with a Kennedy Otieno goal in stoppage time.

Zoo Kericho 0-0 Mathare United – (Kericho Green Stadium)

Mathare United welcomed the point from the barren draw at Kericho and it took them one place off the bottom. But against a modest opponent like debutants Zoo Kericho, Mathare, the 2008 champions would have hoped for more in their intended revival after mid-season re-organisation.

Mathare will this have to continue building on the weekend result to stay out of trouble. They close the first half of the season with Sony Sugar up next (July 15) and Kakamega Homeboyz on July 28.

Saturday:

AFC Leopards 0-2 Kariobangi Sharks – (Afraha Stadium)

Of course the highlight at Nakuru on Saturday was AFC Leopards inability to get out of embarrassment; a season clogged with all the signs of poor management and complete lack of cohesion which has seen the club totter on the brink of the relegation zone.

Going head-to-head with the buoyant league first-timers was the least of fixture options Leopards would preferred at a time they have not sorted out even their coaching personnel after a brief flirtation with the peculiar Romanian Dorian Marian.

Good times continue for Kariobangi Sharks … victory over AFC Leopards was their 10th match without defeat in a row

Good times continue for Kariobangi Sharks … victory over AFC Leopards was their 10th match without defeat in a row

New coach Tom Juma, who may in fact be interim because Marian’s case has not been concluded, and the new signing, the Uganda international Keziron Kizito appeared to have to improving impact on Leopards.

Irrespective, Leopards were to be completely upstaged by Kariobangi Sharks. First, Gambian striker Ebrima Sanneh combined well with Mathew Odongo to stab the ball in from close range and give Sharks the lead on 51 minute.

Unbeaten run

They got their second though fortuitously when Odongo’s free kick sailed into the net off Leopards’ Victor Majid nine minutes to time.

The result extended Sharks unbeaten run to nine matches while condemning Leopards to their ninth game without a win.

Nakumatt 2-1 Sofapaka – (Tusker Village, Ruaraka)

Sofapaka took the lead when Ezekiel Okare nodded home a corner kick in the 15th minute. Former Tusker midfielder Robert Omunuk, however, levelled matters for Nakumatt three minutes to half time with a simple finish as an out of position Nakumatt goalkeeper desperately scrambled to get back on goal.

Omunuk got on the score sheet for the second time on the afternoon on 71 minutes with an opportunistic strike.

Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa complained bitterly after defeat by Nakumatt at Ruaraka

Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa complained bitterly after defeat by Nakumatt at Ruaraka

Ssimbwa alleged that his player Feni Ali ought to have had his effort two minutes into the second half allowed as a goal and disallowing was a “match-fixing” decision of the referee.

Ali had pounced onto Rogers Aloro’s rebound from a free-kick only for the centre referee to rule it out for offside. “We scored a genuine goal from a re-bound but the referee denied us, they (Nakumatt) scored an offside goal and he gave them. He went on to deny us two clear penalties. If I lose even five games genuinely, I will not complain, but today the referees came with a fixed mind as if they had put a bet,” Ssimbwa said.

Okare put Sofapaka ahead when he headed home Wesley Onguso’s long throw ball before goalkeeper Sammy Okinda came off his line to intercept Timothy Luda’s cross.

Nakumatt (left) … surprise win over Sofapaka puts them up eighth on the standings

Nakumatt (left) … surprise win over Sofapaka puts them up eighth on the standings

 …

Nzoia United 0-0 Thika United – (Sudi Stadium)

Nzoia custodian Mustapha Odour was the star of the game producing a string of excellent saves.

The result extended Thika’s unbeaten ran to five games but they would will feel they deserved more in this match.

Western Stima 1-2 Muhoroni Youth – (Moi Stadium, Kisumu)

Collins Agade made the most of a poorly organized defense to poke the ball past Western Stima custodian Samuel Odhiambo and give Muhoroni the lead.

Second half replacement Daniel Otieno danced his way past two defenders to fire a low shot home and double Muhoroni’s lead in the 59th minute.

Stima pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when Bernard Ondiek got on the end of Ezekiel’s Otuoma cross to bury his emphatic effort into the top right corner of the net.

2017 Kenyan Premier (after Sunday matches)

   
Pos Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Gor Mahia 15 8 4 3 20 12 8 28
2 Tusker 15 8 4 3 17 13 4 28
3 Ulinzi Stars 15 7 5 3 22 15 7 26
4 Posta Rangers 15 6 8 1 13 8 5 26
5 Kariobangi Sharks 15 7 4 4 14 9 5 25
6 Sofapaka 15 6 5 4 17 11 6 23
7 Bandari 15 6 4 5 16 11 5 22
8 Nakumatt 14 6 4 4 14 12 2 22
9 Kakamega Homeboyz 15 5 7 3 11 9 2 22
10 Chemelil Sugar 15 5 6 4 14 12 2 21
11 Nzoia United 15 4 6 5 19 16 3 18
12 AFC Leopards 15 4 4 7 10 15 -5 16
13 Sony Sugar 15 4 4 7 10 15 -5 16
14 Zoo Kericho 15 3 6 6 14 20 -6 15
15 Muhoroni Youth 14 3 5 6 10 16 -6 14
16 Thika United 15 2 6 7 14 20 -6 12
17 Mathare United 15 2 5 8 10 20 -10 11
18 Western Stima 15 2 5 8 10 21 -11 11

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and KPL