Nairobi — Tusker FC retained their domestic league crown in the most dramatic of fashions on a frenetic final day of the season on Saturday.
The last gasp triumph came after leaders Gor Mahia faltered to a 1-1 draw at a packed City Stadium as challengers AFC Leopards succumbed 1-0 at a rain soaked Awendo Green Stadium to Chemelil.
Coach Robert Matano celebrated his second league title in three years after the side he inherited from Sammy Omollo crushed City Stars 3-0 at Hope Centre to win the diadem by a solitary point on a gripping day of Kenyan football.
Dominic Odipo, who had not scored for the entire season was the toast for Tusker with a brace with Fred Ojwang putting the gross on the scoreline at the end.
At City, the Green Army support was left crestfallen despite Rama Salim giving them ten minutes of hope when he cancelled out Kennedy Odhiambo first half opener.
Leopards who started the day third on goal difference from the champions on 57 points one adrift of their archrivals saw their aspirations washed away by Jonathan Mwangi's 16th minute breakaway strike.
"I promised to defend the title when I came here 10 games ago and that is what has happened today.
"I'm so happy for this team because they played like the champions they are," Matano who led Sofapaka to the title in 2009 said after the final whistle.
Tusker now qualify to represent Kenya at the CAF Champions League for the second season running keen to improve on their first-round exit earlier this year.
For Leopards who needed six second half goals to overhaul the Brewers from their perch, defeat was laced with optimism.
"I'm sorry to our fans for not winning the title but my boys played like champions since we did not fail.
"If we would have lost by ten points, that would have been a failure but losing the title by only three points will make us come back stronger nexts season" said Leopards coach Jan Koops who put a brave face to his team's inability to breach a well drilled Chemelil side.
Gor and their fervent fans were inconsolable at the final whistle after seeing their first chance to win the trophy in 17 years ended by a dogged Thika side with rioting among some of the disgruntled supporters marring what was a carnival before kick-off.
Their famed Green Army had packed their City Stadium citadel to the rafters three hours before kick-off and some were overwhelmed by grief when the match ended with some vexed supporters pelting the SuperSport Outside Broadcasting van with stones that led to the shattering of the windscreen.
Gor had won eight straight matches before Saturday having not dropped points since their 2-2 draw against Mathare in August prior to their failed appointment with destiny to aggravate their huge sense of loss.
The two giants of Kenyan football meet again next weekend to contest the semi of the Football Kenya Federation Cup in Nairobi.
"We still have the Cup to play for andd my work is to get the boys ready for it," Coops told Capital Sport in Awendo.
Tusker will face Sofapaka in the other semi and unless the Bottlers clinch the double, the winner will go on to represent Kenya in the CAF Confederations Cup.
"You may fetch water from a river and carry it in a pot only for it to drop at the door," Chemelil coach, Mike Baraza said in reference to the shattering sense of failure felt by Gor and Leopards.
"But this shows that the Kenyan league is becoming very competitive and next season will be tougher," he added as he enjoyed leading his side to qualify for the Top 8 knock-out tournament with the Leopards' scalp.