10 November 2012

Kenya: Country Waiting

THEY may have shared drinks and toasted good luck to each other but today Gor Mahia coach Zdravko Logarusic, his Tusker counterpart, Robert Matano and Nicholas Muyoti, Jan Koops assistant, will be plotting each other's downfall in a bid to undermine their rivals title chances when the curtains come down on the 2012 Kenya Premier League season.

Logarusic, Matano and Muyoti were together in a cocktail party hosted by KPL broadcast sponsors SuperSports, minutes before the live shooting and broadcasting of the Soccer Africa show moderated by South African popular football presenter Thomas Mlambo.

The trio were in high spirits on Thursday night, but this afternoon their focus will be firmly on ensuring their teams do their bit in the race to win the domestic title.

The fact that Kenya's most successful football clubs are in direct competition for the title evokes memories of the mid 80s' and 90s' when they used to battle each other for honours--both at the domestic and regional levels, a period many agree was the most rewarding in the country's football history.

Gor go into the final day of the season a point better than defending champions Tusker and Leopards, both of whom are on 57 points.

K'ogallo remain firm favourites to beat Thika United and lift their first league championship in 17years, a period that Logarusic admitted was too long and was about to come to an end.

"We have been the best team by far in the second leg of the season. We have played 15 matches and kept clean sheets in 10 of the matches, where we have emerged victorious. We are where we are because of our hard work," said the Croatian coach.

On his part, Matano said his side still have a chance at retaining their league title even though they visit Hope Centre Kawangware, a venue in which they have struggled to get victories in the past.

"I am sure we can end the bad record we have against City Stars. We ended our bad run against Karuruti in Naivasha and I believe the same can be done at Hope Centre," said Matano, himself a former coach of the Kawangware outfit back in 2004-2005.

With Leopards staring at a trophy cabinet devoid of a league title since 1998, former player and now part of the club's technical bench, Muyoti admitted that Leopards may have let it too late to end their long wait. Muyoti said as long as there is chance, his charges will give their best shot and see the final outcome.

"The players are psyched up as they know what is at stake. They know they still have chance and we will not give up until the very end," said the former Leopards skipper. Leopards travel to face a Chemelil Sugar side brimming with confidence after going on a run of 10 matches unbeaten.

As it stands, any of the three teams can win the title if their rivals falter. Gor's situation is straight forward--beat Thika and win the title. Tusker will retain their title if they win or draw with a bigger margin and pray that Gor and Leopards lose.

Ingwe need a victory and hope that Gor and Tusker do not win their matches.

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