The effects of KFF’s partnership with media giants Super Sport are beginning to be felt as they launched a new website and logo dedicated to the Kenyan Premier League. Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come…
2008 looks to e a ig year for Kenyan sportsmen and women all over the world and although our beloved Harambee Stars will be missing out on the premier event on the African Continent, The Africa Cup of Nations, there action on the domestic season will hopefully give the die hard fans who still attend these matches reason enough that there is enough talent on the local scene to change that. The rugby and cricket teams on the other hand will have quite a bit on their own plates with both looking for success which for, while for rugby will be unprecedented, will have been long overdue for the cricket team.
First up will be Th Intercontinental cup in cricket which see the best Non-test teams face each other in a league from whence the best two teams face of in a final in a neutral venue to decide which one of them is the best at First Class cricket. The current tournament which started way back in June currently has Kenya on top of the table before there two matches in January against UAE and Namibia, Kenya will need to cash in on these winnable matches before they head of to face more adept opposition in the form Of the Dutch and the Scots. Outside of that if things work out well Kenya will also face Test nations South Africa in two One day matches, and the possibility of hosting Zimbabwe for a full blown tour including a number of First Class matches and One Day internationals. Also in th pipeline is a possible forur nation tournament involving immediate rivals in the Cricket world rankings Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Rugby returns in a big way in February when the Rugby sevens tournament returns in early February and with Kenya having made such a strong statement in the first two legs in Dubai and George making the main up quarter finals on both occasions and winning the plate in George knocking over such traditional rugby powerhouses such as England on the way, the rugby team will be looking to build on this platform and finishing well in the top ten, maybe even the top five, who knows ? Sky is the limit.
However the biggest event on the 2008 Kenyan sports calendar is undoubtedly the Olympics in Beijing where Kenya’s athletics will be wanting to extend their revival at the recent World Athletics World Championships in Osaka with another huge medal haul. Also looking to get in amongst the medal winners will be the boxers and maybe if things go really positively there might be one or two Kenyan swimmers lining up at the finals of one or two strokes.
On the Domestic front there will be the KFF Premier league which is looking to run uninterrupted for the second successive season in a few years and will be available to view all over the continent on Supersprt following a multimillion shilling 4 year television deal. Also on the agenda will be the usual rugby sevens circuit peaking in mid year with the Safari Sevens and if nothing goes worong for the first time Kenya will be witnessing the best cricketing talent on offer playing each other in a proposed national league.
After coming through a nervy draw in Kasarani against Mathare United two weeks ago, effectively ending Mathare’s hopes for a maiden League win, Tusker finally ended their seven year wait for the championship with ahrd fought 1-0 away win at Nakuru’s Red Berets with the goods provided by talismanic striker Allan Wanga who finished off a dream season for himself personally by clinching a proffessional contract with Angolan outfit Petro Atletico wher it is hoped he will get to show his stuff In Africa’s premier club competition (The champions league).
After a long, highly competitive and thankfully relatively undisturbed by court battles and if this
continues then news like this might be more more often than not. With the relatively small number of off the pitch cases settled the relagation fight this season sees Coast Stars and Homegrown go down with Mahakama (Which is swahili for Law courts) surviving quite literally thanks to a tribunal decision that handed them the points on a disputed tie against Ulinzi stars.
With Allan Wanga now gone Tusker will probably have to hope their luck with finding quality forwards holds out as they seek to defend their tite next season, which will be for the first time be broadcast live all over the continent on Supersport. The main challengers will most probably be Mathare United who have been there or thereabouts ever since they got into top flight football, Sony Sugar the former champions, while the likes of Military side Ulinzi Stars, Chemelil Sugar and Red Berets who finished this season in the mid table can get a positive start then anything could happen.
With so little interest in local football its quite a shame that next weekend’s claimacyic showdown between Mathare United and Tusker FC will probably for all intents and purposes go unnoticed as Nairobi’s numerous football fans choose to ignore the clash of two the city’s more succesfully run teams to flock to bars and restaurants to watch the English premier league.
This match which will be Mathare’s last before they call it a day for this season will be a judgement day of sorts for a side who despite their relative success in the cup, sound structure and squad strenght have yet to taste sucess in the league, against a side that represents one of the last of a generation of dead or dying football clubs that for many a decade once bestrode the Kenyan football scene raking up local and regional trophies and attracting hordes of passionate if not riotous fans to venues such as City Stadium and Kasarani (which incidentally will be the host of this weekends clash). A win for Mathare United would take them to 58 points, effectively too much for second placed Sony Sugar to get even if they win their last match but if Tusker win their last two matches after this encounter then they will still be able to sneak ahead of Mathare by a single point.
Tusker FC on the other hand are looking to re-establish a level of dominance in local club football that, considering their overall stature and the decline of most of the football clubs with the tradition to match theirs, has largely evaded them of late. A win would almost certainly put them in the driving seat and with league lead striker Allan Wanga about to leave to further his career with Angola’s Petro Atletico a league championship would most certainly be an ideal for theman who’s prowess in front of goal probably deserves a chance to shine for the national team
Defending champions Sony Sugar who, despite their being second on the table, stand only a slim chance of retaining the title do not play this weekend after seeing off Gor Mahia midweek and will almost be backing Tusker to cause Mathare United to slip up if their are to still be in the title on the final matchday. The basement battle see’s Homegrown on 29 points who have already completed their season sweating on the results of the three teams behind them who can still mathematically condemn them to the bottom the log.
With the folding of Kawangware, The KFF, KPL lost another community based football club to financial insolvency and in the world where the the most widely played sport generates billions of dollars by way of marketing, sponsorships, and sale of television rights one wonders when the KFF will wake up and smell the coffee on the vast untapped and potential that awaits them should they find some emeans to turns iconic football identites such as Gor Mahia or the fallen AFC Leopards into marketing brands
That so many people are around to shed tears when unfortunate things happen as was the case when Oserian, then Mumias Sugar FC were wound up and that nobody then, and even now seems to have learnt from the mistakes of the past and tried to implement some kind of concrete plan to remedy the situation with the ‘perilous’ situation that faces local football teams. Its one thing to wax lyrical about how some convenient scapegoat like , the penetration of the English Premier League or the mere existence of institutional football clubs is killing ‘community football clubs or ven inviting delegates from South Africa’s PSL or even from FIFA to give wise words of counsel but where is the action that speaks so much louder than words. Where are the massive adverts and marketing when for example there is a top of the table clash at City stadium. How many Kenyans are even aware that this season’s Premier league and indeed Nationwide divisions could probably be the most exciting and close finishes in recent memory?
One cannot imagine that a product is going to sell especially in a competitve market without advertising. Where are the Gor Mahia, and Mathare United replica shirts, one can hardly find one of the national team leave alone any of the leading football clubs in the country yet most sports stores are stocked up with the latest edition of Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal replica kits. Even local rugby, and cricket which doesn’t quite have the same player base have found a niche in these markets but football lags behind. What’s even more disappointing is that there doesn’t seem to even be any kind of a safety net for teams in financial distress to sort themselves out, these teams are merely left to waste away in preperation for yet another series or complaining about how football is being killed by whoever happens to be the popular villain for the occasion.
Until the KFF is prepared to take action rather than sit on thye sidlines and moan then Kawangware will not be the last football club we will be burying.
Tusker secured maximum points with a 3-1 win over relegation threatened Coast Stars on Saturday thanks to a brace form league joint top scorer Allan Wanga to go two points clear of Mathare United in the Premier League as Sony Sugar in third prevented the leaders from expanding the gap between the two teams from growing by securing an encouraging 2-0 home win over Homegrown. Tusker now sit on top of the table with 53 points, one ahead of Mathare United who have played two matches more and 3 ahead of Sony Sugar who like Tusker have two matches in hand over Mathare United with Red Berets, Ulinzi and Chemelil Sugar in 4th 5th and sixth. Gor Mahia on the other hand took advantage of Coast Stars slip up by beating Mathare Youth 2-1 to climb two places and 2 points clear of the relegation zone.On a sad note Kangemi who are 15 points adrift at the bottom of the table were unable to honour their fixture against KCB at city stadium and one can only worry if this is a one off or a tell tale sign of yet another community based football club on its deathbed
As Kenya’s Football Premier League starts to look more and more like a reflection of the stock exchange this year’s title race boils down to a horse race with three teams , Mathare United on 52 points, former champions Tusker FC (50) and defending champions Sony Sugar (47) . Though Mathare United head the table that Sony Sugar and Tusker FC both have 3 games in hand on Mathare but any slip ups such as Tuskers’ barren draw away at Thika United last weekend could still see Mathare United claim their maiden Premier League title.
Mathare United will be looking to collect as many wins as they can from the remaining fixtures and hope that it gives them enough points to hang on to first place come the final reckoning and will be boosted by the victory they ground out away at Agro-Chemical in Muhoroni although they could very well lose their lead as they do not have any scheduled fixtures on Saturday.
Tusker only two point behind the league leaders will have a chance to put their misfortunes of the week before aside as they host relegation threatened Coast Stars at Nyayo Stadium this weekend. However that Tusker have not exactly been in flying form and the threat that looms of relegation that looms over their opponents means that this encounter will be more than a mere formality for a club that has not won the title in four years even with the relative strength of its resources.
Defending champions Sony Sugar host mid-table Homegrown, who are themselves on a 5 match unbeaten streak, looking to protect what slim chances they still have to defend their title. Going into the weekend matches on 47 points from 25 games, Sony Sugar surely cannot afford any slip ups if they are to prevent the race for the title becoming a two horse race.
On the other end of the table Gor Mahia will be looking to avoid relegation with victory against Mathare Youth who themselves will also be looking nervously over their shoulders as the season draws to a close. Relegation for the 1987 Mandela Cup champions, a possibility that at the turn of the century would have seemed laughable now looms large as ‘Gor’ as they are affectionately called by their loyal supporters lie 3rd from bottom on 26 points, but with the bottom of the table beig so congested with 6 clubs all within 5 points of each other an unbeaten streak with a few wins could prove just enough to keep Gor Mahia going for another season in the top flight