Voice of Sport

Champs Tusker best team of the moment as suspicion ‘cash’ crisis beginning to bite at Kenyan Premier League

‘Politics’ among problems that have caused flight of officials at Nzoia United, claims head coach Bernard Mwalala

After good start, trouble: Nzoia United coach Bernard Mwalala says he has been abandoned in rough high seas by those elected to steer the club’s boat

2017 Kenyan Premier League:

Results:

Sunday, May 14:

AFC Leopards 1-1 Zoo Kericho

(Gilbert Fiamenyo 86’;    Stanislaus Akiya 59’)

 Nzoia Sugar 0-1 Gor Mahia

(Meddie Kagere 15’)

Posta Rangers 0-0 Nakumatt

Thika United 0-0 Homeboyz

Tusker 2-1 Sony Sugar

(Allan Wanga 40’, Michael Khamati 61’; Amos Asembeka 77’)

Sat, May 13:

Ulinzi Stars 2-1 Muhoroni Youth

(Samuel Onyango 30’, Boniface Onyango 64’; Thomas Venval 90’)

Kariobangi Sharks 1-0 Bandari

(Martin Odongo 34’)

Western Stima 3-2 Mathare United

(Kennedy Otieno 8’, Moses Arita 68’, Bernard Ondiek 90’; Chrispin Oduor 26’ pen, 54’)

Chemelil Sugar 0-1 Sofapaka

(Paul Odhiambo 6’)

TALE-OF-THE-TAPE IN LAST 5 KENYAN PREMIER LEAGUE ROUNDS

 

TUSKER, the defending champions are currently the best performing team in the Kenyan Premier League, a competition expanded to 18 teams from 16 this season facing imminent financial crisis after the pull-out of broadcast rights partners but which, meanwhile, is trudging on with some exciting matches.

Although placed fourth on the table, Tusker, slow starters at the beginning of the season are on a 100% of victories in the past five matches; the best run which top-placed Gor Mahia [three wins, a draw and a loss] must be watching with some in trepidation.

Fifth-placed Kariobangi Sharks, first-timers in the Premiership are on cloud nine, with the second best performance in the last five rounds; four wins and a draw sounds almost miraculous after a woeful start.

Nzoia United and Nzoia Sugar-sponsored … they could be skating on very thin ice

Nzoia United and Nzoia Sugar-sponsored … they could be skating on very thin ice

In fact other promoted teams — the returnees Posta Rangers, are incredible second, Nakumatt at 12th and Zoo Kericho, 16th,  at least off the bottom  — are  finding it far more comfortable than one-time big boys Mathare United [the 2008 Kenya champions], Western Stima and Thika United currently flirting with the relegation zone after 11 rounds.

But there are clouds. Bandari, the team from the Indian Ocean Coast, farther [500km] than anybody else from their nearest opponent are breaking their backs  criss-crossing the country in congested fixtures meant to make up for lost time after many weeks wasted by Football Kenya Federation [FKF] meddling with KPL management.

Zoo Kericho, off the bottom of the table … far better off than bigger names Thika United and Western Stima

Zoo Kericho, off the bottom of the table … far better off than bigger names Thika United and Western Stima

But it is beginning to get worse. With reduced income — up to Sh600,000 a month stipend per club from KPL out of their breached contract with SuperSport [TV] International — financial struggle is the gloomy forecast for many clubs.

In fact, another promoted team, Nzoia United,  who started so well, already have plenty of issues. Head coach Bernard Mwalala a former excellent Harambee Stars forward says the club officials have abandoned the team. But many things point, however, at the club being broke.

Against Thika United, Posta Rangers (right) are second on the table, re-sounding performance after 11 rounds

Against Thika United, Posta Rangers (right) are second on the table, re-sounding achievement after 11 rounds

They are registered as Nzoia United, a community club that rose after many years in the provincial third and national second tiers respectively. At the start of the season, they started referring to and branding  themselves as Nzoia Sugar, the name of a milling company in their region. They did not outright confirm whether Nzoia Sugar had taken up all financial responsibility, how big or just part.

Mwalala seems to imply political upheaval in the club but it is unlikely that the managers are fleeing a club well-funded by Nzoia Sugar. There appears to be total anarchy with the coach left with everything on his hands and therefore has no qualms taking full command.

The champions Tusker bouncing back … winning streak, five out of five

The champions Tusker bouncing back … winning streak, five out of five

Nevertheless Mwalala’s claims that it is political intrigue,  telling the online futaa.com that management had ‘abandoned’ the team and that it was the cause of his side’s recent poor run and slump to 10th place. Nzoia are winless in its last three matches including two straight losses following two draws. They latest was a 0-1 home defeat by Gor Mahia at Mumias Sports Complex last Sunday.

Mwalala told futaa.com that a new management office led by Chairman Brian Keya had run away from addressing “current leadership crisis facing the club.”

Centre stage

The Head Coach said: “In January I clearly said this club didn’t need a [change] new office because we had one that was running the team so well. Led by chairman Yappets Mokua, they  knew how to run a football club. ‘Politics’ took center stage and officials who had overseen the rise and rise of the team since 2012 were voted out.

“We now have an office that doesn’t care about this team at all. The technical bench and the players are on their own at the moment.  I have decided to speak out so  that our fans can understand the situation we are in.

Simba star

“We are paying the price of  getting rid of people who genuinely love football and would do anything to see the team succeed.  At the moment things are bad,” the former Kenya  striker who starred for  Dar es Salaam [Tanzania] giants Simba, said.

Nzoia United does not sound like a team that in any way is supported by the structures of a big company like Nzoia Sugar. This Saturday, Nzoia United travel to Muhoroni to face Muhoroni Youth another struggler that has not won once in the last five matches and includes two losses and three draws.

Reviews, last weekend, by kpl.co.ke:

Kariobangi Sharks 1-0 Bandari

Kariobangi Sharks claimed their third successive win after a 1-0 victory over Bandari at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday.

Mathew Odongo scored the lone goal for Sharks as they moved fourth on the  standings.

One of the most improved sides in last five rounds, Sharks moved fourth on the standings after beating Bandari in Machakos

One of the most improved sides in last five rounds, Sharks moved fourth on the standings after beating Bandari in Machakos

Sharks coach William Muluya was elated, praising his young side for putting up consistent performances.

“We have been learning with every match  and I thank the boys for putting in the hard work. I am confident we can continue this way. We are taking it a game at a time  and don’t want to put pressure on ourselves by setting targets.”

William Muluya … one game at-a-time, won’t put players under pressure

William Muluya … one game at-a-time, won’t put players under pressure

Bandari’s Paul Nkata was disappointed with the result, blaming it on fatigue due to long travels between Nairobi, Mombasa and Machakos.

“We can’t complain about playing three games in a week. But when we have to travel long distances to and fro within one week, then it becomes hard. You could see that my players were fatigued today.”

Rocket

Signs of fatigue were visible in the match as both teams were reserved, neither team wanting to punch in the pace. Bandari had the early chances in the match. Tyrone Owino had a free kick from 30 yards out but he sent his rocket straight to John Oyemba in the Sharks goal in the fifth minute. Ten minutes later, Andrew Waisswa’s shot from distance was deflected, but Oyemba managed to place himself well to collect.

Sharks opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with their first effort at goal. The Ugandan Odongo dribbled into the box and shot low, the ball sneaking in between ‘keeper Wilson Obungu’s feet.

Change

Immediately, Nkata was bolted into his first change, pulling out Owino and bringing in Shabaan Kenga it did not count much.

In the second half, Muluya was forced into his first change, bringing out Bolton Omwenga for Stephen Odhiambo. He explained after the match that Omwenga had been troubled with some breathing problem and had to be offloaded.

Efforts

However, the pace of the match still remained low with neither team pushing forward. In the final minutes though, both had chances. First, substitute John Avire for … who seemed the most exciting player in the last 15 minutes, shot wide.

On the other end, another sub, Ovellah Ochieng’, twice saw his efforts for Sharks  picked up by Obungu.

Only a point’s yield for big guns AFC Leopards, Abdalla Salim (left) against upstarts Zoo Kericho (Kevin Omondi)

Only a point’s yield for big guns AFC Leopards, Abdalla Salim (left) against upstarts Zoo Kericho (Kevin Omondi)

AFC Leopards 1-1 Zoo Kericho – (Kenyatta Stadium)

AFC Leopards’ winless record persisted into the fifth match. And actually, Leopards are the worst in the league in the last five-match stretch, three losses and two draws,  equal with the bottom team Thika United.

Leopards fell behind early in the second half when Zoo Kericho captain Johnstone Ligare rose high to head home a corner.

Ghanaian import Gilbert Fiamenyo, coming in as a substitute, drew Ingwe level in the 87th minute after a deflection from Robinson Kamura’s free kick saw the ball land conveniently on his path, and he gladly obliged.

Streak of poor performance has Stewart Hall and management bench facing querries from AFC Leopards office and followers

Streak of poor performance has head coach Stewart Hall and management bench facing querries from AFC Leopards office and followers

Zoo Kericho coach Sammy Okoth .. his team led AFC Leopards before sharing points

Zoo Kericho coach Sammy Okoth .. his team led AFC Leopards before sharing points

TEAMS:

AFC LEOPARDS: 18 Gabriel Andika: 19 Joshua Mawira, 33 Marcus Abwao (Allan Katerega), 4 Robinson Kamura, 15 Salim Abdalla, 8 Haroun Nyakha, 26 Duncan Otieno, 22 Bernard Mang’oli (captain), 24 Samuel Ndung’u, 26 Whyvonne Isuza, 5 Paul Kiongera

Reserves:  Edwin Mukolwe, Rama Yakubu, Andrew Tololwa,  Fiamenyo, Kateregga, Marcelus Ingotse, Michael Kibwage, Gilbert Fiamenyo

Coach: Stewart J Hall – (England)

 ZOO KERICHO: 9 Vincent Misikhu, 27 William Obayi,  6 Johnstone Ligare,, 31 Stanislaus Akiya ,  39 Dominic Nixon Ouma,  4 Leonard Mmata, 5 Mike Madoya, 18 Geoffrey Gichana, 29 Kelvin Omondi, 22 Nicholas Kipkirui, 10 Bernard Odhiambo

Coach:  Sammy Okoth – (Kenya)

Nzoia Sugar 0-1 Gor Mahia  – (Mumias Sports Complex)

Meddie Kagere dribbled past four defenders before putting the ball past Nzoia custodian Mustapha Oduor for the only goal of the match and his fourth of the season.

Nzoia had an excellent chance to equalise in the 30th minute when they won a penalty after Harun Shakava brought Boniface Omondi inside the box. Goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch however dealt with the situation saving the spot kick taken by former AFC Leopards defender Edwin Wafula.

The champions Tusker bouncing back … winning streak, five out of five

The champions Tusker bouncing back … winning streak, five out of five

TEAMS:

NZOIA UNITED: 23 Mustapha Oduor: 26 Festus Okiring’, 16 Hillary Wandera (Benjamin Muchuma, 70’), 22 Joachim Oluoch, 14. Edwin Wafula, 04 Peter Gin (captain), 12 Luke Namanda,  24 Lawrence Juma, 10 Boniface Omondi,  20 Masita Masuta,  33 Elvis Rupia ( Patrick Kwitonda, 78’)

Reserves not used: 39 Benson Mangala: 25 Geoffrey Kariuki, 08 Edger Nzano,  17 Jonathan Lodaket,  06 Benjamin Muchuma, 11 Job Endriseh

Coach: Bernard Mwalala – (Kenya)streaming Despicable Me 3 2017 film

GOR MAHIA: Boniface Oluoch, Karim Nzigiyimana, (Innocent Wafula, 59’),  Harun Shakava, Musa Mohammed, Ernest Wendo, Wellington Ochieng’, Kenneth Muguna, Godfrey Walusimbi, George Odhiambo (Oliver Maloba, 68’),  Meddie Kagere, Timothy Otieno (Joash Onyango, 68’)

 Reserves not used: Shaban Odhoji: Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza, Francis Kahata, Amos Nondi

Coach: Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira – (Brazil)

 

Posta Rangers 0-0 Nakumatt –  (Afraha Stadium)

They may have failed to break open the league debutants, but this result ensured that Posta Rangers’ unbeaten record remained intact after 11 rounds of matches.

John Nairuka and Simon Mbugua threatened dangerously, but neither of them was able to get past Nakumatt goalkeeper Sammy Okinda.

TEAMS:

POSTA RANGERS: Patrick Matasi: Jockins Atudo (captain), Luke Ochieng’,  Titus Achesa, Simon Mbugua, Joseph Mbugi, Jerry Santo, Joseph Nyagah (John Nairuka 46′), Geofrey Kataka (Jared Obwoge, 55), Gerson Likono, Dennis Mukaisi.

Reserves: Farouk Shikhalo: Hashim Mukhwana, Rodgers Ochieng’, Simon Ogutu, Joseph Kuria

NAKUMATT: Sammy Okinda:  Nicholas Meja, John Njoroge, Eugene Ambulwa, Kennedy Onyango, Kelvin Omondi, Clinton Kisiavuki (Joshua Oyoo,73′), Peter Nzuki, Ronald Musana (David Naftali,  81′), Kepha Aswani, Robert Omunuk

Reserves: Charles Ouma (gk); Christopher Wekesa, Timothy Wanyonyi , Crispin Odula, Obadiah Ndege

Coach: Anthony Mwangi – (Kenya)

Thika United 0-0 Kakamega Homeboyz  – (Thika Stadium)

Thika escaped with a point after enduring heavy pressure from the visitors.

Ali Bhai and Wycliffe Ochomo combined well upfront for Homeboyz, but were wasteful to a point where coach Mike Mururi was forced to withdraw the latter immediately after the interval.

Mike Mururi with a Homeboyz draw at Thika … could not capitalize on a demoralized Thika United

Mike Mururi with a Homeboyz draw at Thika … could not capitalize on a demoralized Thika United

Having lost two matches in a row, Thika presented a highly defensive game, although Benson Iregi and Eric Adem each had a chance at goal in the opening stages of the game.

TEAMS:

THIKA UNITED: Eliud Emase: Suleiman Ngotho, Sammy Meja, Collins Okumu, Wilson Anekeya, Shami Kibwana, Abdalla Asad, Benson Iregi, (Onwudi Chibueze,56’), Eugene Mukangula (Francis Muturi 78′),  Dennis Lewa, Eric Adem

Reserves: Kaleb Wafula, Samuel Mwanje , Khalikhali Idai, Stephen Odhiambo, Tsuma Said

Coach: Nicholas Muyoti – (Kenya)

KAKAMEGA HOMEBOYZ: David Juma, Edmond Mauda, Eric Ambunya, Charles Momanyi, Moses Chikati, Eston Esiye, Moses Mudavadi, Andrew Kulecho, Ali Bhai ,Wycliffe Ochomo (Andrew Murunga, 46’), David Okoth (Stephen Wakhanya, 52’)

Reserves: Michael Wanyika, George Odiwuor, Abdulatif  Omar, Festo Omukoto, Keiphas Mutuu

Coach: Mike Mururi – (Kenya)

Tusker 2-1 Sony Sugar – (Ruaraka Grounds)

Allan Wanga opened the account for  champions Tusker with a rasping shot that bounced in off the crossbar.

Then Tusker captain James Situma brought down Amon Muchiri in the danger area, and Amos Asembeka stepped up to convert the resultant penalty to level for Sony Sugar.

Mike Khamati delivered the match winner with a low shot in the 61st minute after some good work by Brian Mandela.

TEAMS:

TUSKER: Duncan Ochieng: Collins Shivachi, Shafik Batambuze, James Situma, Marlon Tangauzi, Hashim Sempala (Anthony Ndolo ), Humphrey Mieno, Jackson Macharia (Abdul Hassan ), George Mandela, Michael Khamati (Clifford Alwanga), Allan Wanga
Reserves: David Okello, Eugene Asike, Martin Kizza, Sydney Ochieng’

Coach: George “Best” Nsimbe – (Uganda) 

SONY SUGAR: 35 Kevin Omondi, 28 Eugene Ochieng’, 3 Samuel Olare, 23 Kevin Olouch,13 Justine Omari, 26 Alfred Onyango, 4 Abdalla Hamisi, 9 Amos Asembeka, 2 Marwa Chamberi (10 Boniface Muchiri), 19 Daniel  Ochieng’ (14 Yemi Mwanya),  15 Monda Justine

Reserves: 22 Tom Muthomi, 20 Victor Ademba, 17 Joseph Omweri, 31. Curtis Wekesa, Onyango Alfred

Coach: Salim Babu  – (Kenya)

Kenyan Premier League | STANDINGS:

   
Pos Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Gor Mahia 11 8 1 2 16 6 10 25
2 Posta Rangers 11 6 5 0 9 3 6 23
3 Ulinzi Stars 11 6 3 2 17 10 7 21
4 Tusker 11 6 3 2 14 12 2 21
5 Kariobangi Sharks 11 6 1 4 11 8 3 19
6 Sofapaka 11 5 3 3 13 8 5 18
7 Bandari 11 5 2 4 13 8 5 17
8 AFC Leopards 11 4 3 4 10 11 -1 15
9 Chemelil Sugar 11 3 5 3 8 7 1 14
10 Kakamega Homeboyz 11 3 5 3 6 6 0 14
11 Nzoia United 11 3 4 4 14 13 1 13
12 Nakumatt 11 3 4 4 8 9 -1 13
13 Sony Sugar 11 3 2 6 6 12 -6 11
14 Muhoroni Youth 11 2 4 5 7 11 -4 10
15 Mathare United 11 2 3 6 9 16 -7 9
16 Zoo Kericho 11 2 3 6 7 14 -7 9
17 Western Stima 11 2 3 6 8 16 -8 9
18 Thika United 11 2 2 7 10 16 -6 8

 –Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies