Nairobi News

SportsWhat's Hot

Let sanity prevail as teams fight for the title

It is all systems go as what promises to be an enthralling football season begins at various venues.

Just like last year, there will be early pace setters who will eventually fade off as the league wears on. Every team will be guarding against losing points, therefore diligence will be key.

Five teams have positioned themselves as top contenders for the 2014 crown. AFC Leopards, Sofapaka, Tusker and Ulinzi are plotting how to dethrone Gor Mahia.

I was particularly impressed by the confidence displayed by Sofapaka who put Gor to the sword during the Kenya Power Charity Cup. It will certainly be a team to watch, especially so because K’Ogalo and Ingwe will be distracted by their continental assignments.

The 2012 Kenyan Premier League champions Tusker faded off last season, finishing a poor fifth that resulted in the sacking of Robert Matano. The lion, however, got a lifeline when AFC Leopards hired him on the technical bench.

The brewers appointed Francis Kimanzi, the last coach to take Harambee Stars to the Africa Cup of Nations. Kimanzi is shrewd and has made worthy signings, but what remains to be seen is if that will translate into results.

Gor will be under pressure to defend their title and keep their die-hard fans happy.

AFC Leopards, in my view, has the best squad after spending heavily on new players. The signing of the best player in 2013 Jacob Keli from KCB and Joseph Shikokoti from Tusker set tongues wagging. Point man Allan Wanga is back to fitness, giving rivals something to ponder.

But as the teams get down to business, it is hoped that there will be a decline in hooliganism.

Recently, there were ugly scenes at Nyayo National Stadium during the Kenya Power Cup early this month when Sofapaka beat Gor Mahia on penalties to retain the title.

Angry K’Ogalo fans threw missiles onto the pitch after the team lost 1-3. Scores of fans were injured as police were forced to fire teargas canisters onto the pitch to disperse unruly fans.

Kenyan Premier League Ltd has demonstrated its willingness to help end hooliganism. Perpetrators of violence will not get off with a slap on their wrist.

My money is on AFC Leopards, Sofapaka will be second and Gor will be third. At best, Tusker will finish fourth.

At the bottom, Kenya Revenue Authority and Nakuru All Stars have a tall order. They must prove that they were not promoted to the top league by fluke.