KPL set for grand finale
The curtains come down on the 2011 Kenyan Premier League season with all to play for on the final day this Saturday.
Either of defending champions Ulinzi Stars and Tusker could win the title with the brewers holding an advantage as they lead they soldiers by a point; 55 to 54.
A win for Tusker over Congo will see them crowned champions while Ulinzi have to beat Rangers and hope that Tusker drop points in Mumias.
At the bottom, City Stars and Bandari are fighting to stay up with Bandari aware that a win in Chemelil will see them survive while the kawangware based side must beat Karuturi and hope that Chemelil do them a favour by edging out Bandari.
Here’s the preview of the matches
Sofapaka v Gor Mahia (Nyayo)
With Sofapaka having already secured third place following the 2-0 win over Ulinzi, only pride will be at stake when they host Gor Mahia in their final game of the season.
The sides have already met twice this season with the first leg ending in a barren draw while the FKL Cup final clash between them saw Edwin Lavatsa’s goal give K’Ogalo a 1-0 win and with it a place in next year’s Confederations Cup.
Matches between these two sides are usually close with three of their last five meetings have ended in draws. Sofapaka have a surprisingly poor record against Gor Mahia having won just once in five meetings.
Gor will be looking for the perfect sign off to end what has been a turbulent season. Seen as one of the title favourites, Mighty K’Ogalo lost its way midway through the season but have recovered towards the end winning their last three matches.
Thika United v Western Stima (Thika)
Thika are chasing a top eight spot and know that a win over Western Stima will most likely see them achieve their goal.
Currently ninth with 38 points, the Brookside boys have been strong at home as seven of their 11 wins have come in Thika and they will again bank on home support. Coach John Kamau Irungu will again call on Peter Opiyo, Kepha Aswani, Francis Kahata and Clifton Miheso to deliver.
While they have found no problem scoring goals, it’s at the back that they have struggled conceding more than a goal a game.
They face a Stima side that has won two matches in the entire second leg. Since their incredible run in the TOP 8, the electricity boys have been anything but electrifying.
Key to their problem has been lack of goals and like last week, when they managed to score three times- they then went on to concede three times in a 3-3 draw against Mathare.
Tusker v Congo United (Mumias Complex)
Tusker go into the match aware that a win will see them crowned the 2011 champions.
The brewers got a huge lift over the week when Ulinzi lost to Sofapaka handing them the initiative going to the final game of the season.
Tusker however have been incredibly consistent especially against the so called smaller teams and this should be a walkover.
They have a decent record in Mumias winning in their last two appearances there and tend to do well away from home.
For Congo, this will be their swansong in the KPL after a tough season where they have struggled against all the odds.
Lack of finances, change of coaches, tough fixtures, player boycotts, it’s all happened at Congo and this will be their last chance to exit the top flight on a high.
Ulinzi Stars v Rangers (Afraha)
For the second time in as many seasons, Ulinzi go into their final match with a chance to see them crowned Kenyan Premier League champions.
However, unlike last season, this time its not out of their hands as the 2-0 loss to Sofapaka last Tuesday means that they y are one point behind Tusker.
Their form at home as been solid as usual winning eight matches and losing only twice at home this season. Stephen Waruru has been at the spearhead of the soldiers’ attack scoring freely and he will again lead the attack against a Rangers side that has struggled in the second leg.
Rangers have been bedevilled by financial woes that have seen them lose steam after an impressive first leg where they lost only once.
City Stars v Karuturi Sports (Hope Centre)
Nairobi City Stars will be fighting for their lives when they welcome Karuturi Sports at Hope Centre.
The Kawangware based side lost 3-0 to Sony Sugar last weekend- which saw them drop back into the relegation zone-two points behind Bandari.
As a result, they must beat the flowermen, then hope that Bandari do not beat Chemelil away in Awasi for them to retain their premiership status.
Coach Gideon Ochieng will have to do without Oscar Mbugua who was sent off against Sony.
For Karuturi, pride will be the only thing they will be playing for as they are safe from relegation and cannot make the top eight. The flowermen have struggled in the second leg with Coach James Nandwa and his assistant Sammy Okoth put on gardening leave.
In their place, Jack Gatheru guided the team to a credible draw against Tusker and another good result will be a good audition for him to get the job on full time basis.
Sony Sugar v Mathare United (Awendo)
Sony Sugar have been the form team of the second leg winning eight matches to climb into the top eight. Traditionally a second leg team, they have been in great form and a win will see their place in the TOP 8 competition next season.
Key to their revival has been the recruitment of Hugo Nzoka Nzangu and Francis Ocholla as well as the return of Joshua Oyoo from trials in Germany.
For Mathare, the season cannot end soon enough. The slum boys have had a tough season with mass departures in the transfer window, long term injuries to key players and players boycotting training over unpaid allowances have marked a lacklustre season.
The one bright spot has been Kevin Kimani who has top scored with 11 goals but sadly he is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards.
Chemelil Sugar v Bandari (Chemelil)
Bandari have their own fate in their hands. Beat Chemelil, and the Mombasa based side will be guaranteed another season in the Kenyan Premier League.
Two wins in their last two matches means that the dockers are in good nick. They don’t travel too well though- Bandari have claimed only one away win all season but Coach Rishadi Shedu believes they can get the result they need.
Chemelil are going through a barren run of their own having not won since September 25 with losses to Sofapaka, Ulinzi and Tusker have sandwiched draws against Gor, AFC Leopards and Stima.
But with a top eight place at stake, the sugarmen will be looking to get the win as it will guarantee them a top eight finish.
KCB v AFC Leopards (City)
AFC Leopards will look to end their season on a high when they face KCB at City Stadium.
Ingwe have the longest unbeaten record in the league stretching back to July when they lost 3-1 to Gor Mahia. Since then Jan Koops has masterminded an impressive climb that has seen them win seven and draw five matches pushing their way into the top five with 45 points.
A win over KCB coupled with a Gor Mahia loss to Sofapaka would actually see them finish ahead of their archrivals- a feat considered near impossible at the halfway stage of the season.
They will have top striker Mike Barasa back from suspension.
They face a KCB side that has had another up and down season. League leaders or thereabouts for most of the first leg, their second leg has been crazy two wins and nine losses!
KCB though a good record against Leopards having lost only twice in their last five matches and won the first leg 1-0 and have an eye on a top eight finish.