AFC Leopards Will Struggle after All
Given how they finished their 2013 campaign and the way they flattened Ethiopian side Defence in the preliminary round of the ongoing CAF Confederations Cup, one would have been tempted to think that AFC Leopards would be a shoo-in for the 2014 KPL title. But no. James Nandwa’s side have been laid flat on their backs in the first two games of their 2014 KPL campaign. Two straight stalemates, one ending in a 1-1 scoreline and the other on barren terms not only point to a side who have stumbled under the starter’s gun but lays bare the fact that they can hardly breach opposition defences. And this is in spite of having within their ranks a potent attacking line that includes 2013 Golden Boot winner Jacob Kelli and Allan Wanga, one of the best forwards in the league. Granted, KCB and Ulinzi are not teams you would expect to roll over at will but a side of AFC’s stature must be able to show uncanny ability to grind out results in extremis especially during the early days of the season. Had they scored just one extra goal in either or both of those games, that would have given them 6 points which would have lifted the fans’ spirits but especially put a firm belief in the players in their quest to deliver the local giants their first league trophy in 16 years. But that never happened. It may be too early to judge but Ingwe already looks like an ordinary club with extraordinary targets. Donge?
Gor Mahia Fans Will, Well, Be Gor Mahia Fans
So the first match of the season and the often drama-perched Gor Mahia fans (or should I say a cross-section of) already got themselves caught up in controversy enough to ensure they got the first taste of stadium teargas. Apparently the tickets had run out and with the fans evidently eager to get a glimpse of their stars who conquered US Britam in Gabon days earlier, they forced their way in. That the people in charge of ticketing decided to print less tickets was not only shocking but an insult to the club’s coffers. Given their participation in the ongoing CAF Champions League (a costly affair indeed) the club needs avenues to maximize their wherewithal and selling tickets is just one of the surest ways of securing some sort of financial stability. In my opinion, you surely can’t blame the fans. Then came the trip to Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos where the defending champions traveled to face Mathare United. The club’s fans never disappointed as they traveled in their numbers and were handsomely rewarded with a 1-0 win against the Slum Boys, Ugandan Danny Sserunkuma grabbing the game’s solitary goal in the 4t7th minute. Hooliganism has been part of some Kogalo fans’ part time meal over the years but kudos also goes to them who abandon the comfort (or otherwise) of their sofa sets to rally behind their beloved team.
Sofapaka Team to Watch
After whizzing past Gor Mahia in the semi finals and outwitting Mathare United in the finals of the Charity Cup in early February, Sofapaka lay down the Kenya Premier League title marker with a swashbuckling destruction of Muhoroni Youth in their first KPL assignment of the season. The Batoto ba Mungu were ruthless against the sugar men and after taking the lead at the quarter hour mark through Enock Agwanda, they never stopped until the scoreboard indicated 5-1 in their favor, new signing Antony Ndolo joining Agwanda in netting a brace. Veteran marksman John Baraza also added his name to the Sofapaka scoresheet while Muhoroni’s consolation came from Enos Ochieng’. They may have been stopped in their tracks by a decent looking Sony Sugar outfit in their second game but the hammering of Muhoroni and easy defence of their Charity Cup title against top sides should be a warning shot to the rest of the KPL teams that the 2009 champions are back in business, serious business.
KPL has Goals this Season
If there’s something that the Kenya Premier League has been lacking over the years, then goals, goals and goals has to be number one. How many games have you watched finish 1-1, 0-0 1-0? Several. Of course there are those rare occasions when you see a team do a Sofapaka on Muhoroni but such moments are as rare as finding a 20-goal poacher in the league. The last three years have seen a decline in the number of goals scored. A total of 487 goals were scored in the 2011 season when Tusker won the league but it was Sofapaka who found the back of the net most with a paltry 42 goals in 30 matches. Congo United soaked in the most conceding 52 goals in a season that averaged 2.03 goals per match in the 240 match KPL season. The goals reduced by 29 in 2012 with only 458 scored in a season that averaged 1.91 goals per match, Sofapaka’s John Baraza holding firm the golden boot with only 18 goals to his name. Last season, the goals reduced further to 423 (1.8 per match), AFC Leopards new recruit from KCB Jacob Kelli topping the goalscorers list with 17 goals, only, as the topflight continues to look for a front man who will hit double figures. Well, this could just be the year going by the fact that the new season which started a fortnight ago has witnessed 32 goals in 16 games, an average of 2.0 goals per game. Goals make football interesting and entertaining to watch so hopefully we will see more offensive football this season with more 3-0, 5-2, 4-3 games rather than the often boring 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1s.
Managerial Merry-Go-Round to Continue
Just two games into the season, Western Stima are in search of a new tactician after Francis Baraza was relieved of his duties by the Bukhungu Stadium-based club. With one win and a loss in his first two games, you would think that would not lead to a club firing the man who took reign of the club in December 2012 and helped them finish 12th on the table last season. Apparently, the coach was fired not based on results on the pitch but on disciplinary grounds. “We cannot sack a coach so early in the season due to performance. The reasons are disciplinary and we do not want to make anything public because he still has a long future,” Stima Chairman Laban Jobita is quoted to have said. Well, whether on disciplinary grounds or not, the dismissal of Baraza is a warning shot to the rest of the KPL managers: you just can’t feel so safe! Who’s next? Table-topping Sony Sugar coach Zedekiah Otieno? Never say never.
And That's thesteifmastertake!!