The Kenyan Premier League 2018/2019 season ends on Wednesday 29th, May 2019. Gor Mahia is the champion, Vihiga united and Mount Kenya United have been relegated and Allan Wanga is the top scorer (so far). The season has been a short one, with most teams playing thrice a week on most months. This has affected the fitness and finances of teams, and teams with deeper squads have been advantaged.
Behold, is part one of my KPL Season review, done with Larky Luke OJ, one of the most ardent KPL fans I know: prepare a cup of coffee, kick back and enjoy:
Team of the season
JOB: Gor Mahia. Sirkal has represented Kenya well in continental competition, getting to the quarterfinals of the CAF Cup, while still winning the league with relative ease. They have done this while playing very many players, with the likes of Jacques Tuyisenge, nick Kipkirui, Dennis Oliech, Samuel Onyango, Francis Kahata and Boniface Oluoch all playing a key role in their success.
Their football isn’t the easiest to watch, with a 4-4-2 formation that is rigid and rarely changes, but they have been by some distance the best in Kenya this season. Special mention goes to Sofapaka, Nzoia sugar, Mathare United and Kariobangi Sharks, teams that entertain every time they play.
LARKY: Sony Sugar is my team of the season. What a season they have had despite the financial difficulties! A complete contrast of last season’s performance by the 2008 KPL champions. They have been strong at home. Enock Agwanda has been formidable for them. The captain has led from the front by scoring goals and pressing from the front when the opposition has the ball. The team has some exciting talents that are national team bound. Keep an eye on Joshua Otieno, Tobias Otieno, Kelvin Omondi and Derick Otenga
Player of the season
I think there are a number of candidates to this award. The following table has the list of players who have won the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) player of the month this season. Umaru Kasumba is the only one who won the title more than once, and Sofapaka is well represented with two players winning, with Burundian keeper Justin Ndikumana also winning the March award.
I think Umaru Kasumba deserves the title, with 17 goals at the point of writing this blog, seeing him second only to Allan Wanga in the scoring charts. But there is no truly outstanding winner.
SJAK Player of the Month Winners KPL 2018/2019 Season
|December 2018||Peter Thiong’o (Kakamega Homeboyz)|
|January 2019||Abdalla Hassan (Bandari)|
|February 2019||Umaru Kasumba (Sofapaka)|
|March 2019||Justin Ndikumana (Sofapaka)|
|April 2019||Umaru Kasumba (Sofapaka)|
Coach of the season
Job: Hassan Oktay is my coach of the season. He came into a new country, a new football culture, and after teething problems, settled in and won the league rather comfortably, while also taking Gor Mahia to the quarterfinals of the Confederation Cup. The fiery Turk wears his heart on his sleeve, and Kenyan football is lucky to have him.
Special mention goes to John Baraza, Bernard Mwalala and Francis Kimanzi too.
Teams’ individual full term reports
- Gor Mahia
JOB: B. Solid rotation of a very deep set of players, competing in three different tournaments, has led to them being crowned champions for the 18th time, five times more than anyone else. Gor Mahia doesn’t play the best football, but they delivered key wins and results when it mattered. Watching Francis Kahata and Samuel Onyango has also been a highlight.
LARKY: A-: The season started horribly with only 2 wins out of 5 matches and losses to Kariobangi Sharks and Bandari but there was really no doubt that they would defend the KPL title once they settled. It has been a good team performance with Nicholas Kipkurui (9), Samuel Onyango (8), Jacques Tuyisenge (7) and Erisa Ssekisambu (5) scoring 29 goals out of the 55 that the team has scored so far.
JOB: A. Likely to finish second, after also finishing second last season. They have established themselves as the second best in the league, but there is a gap between them and Gor Mahia. It remains to be seen if Kenya ports authority is willing to finance the spending on players and facilities necessary to push them to championship level.
LARKY: A-: just like last season they are likely to be the runners up. It has been a good season generally for the Bernard Mwalala coached side. They are in the final of the Sportpesa Shield cup and I expect them to win it. William Wadri, Yema Mwana and Abdallah Hassan have been outstanding. I expect Farouq Shikalo to defend his Goalkeeper of the year award.
JOB: B. Hiring John Baraza proved a masterstroke. Sofapaka had a superb second half of the season after his appointment, and if they keep up the morale and good form next season, I think a top-three finish will be achievable still. One of the most exciting teams in the league.
LARKY: B they recovered well from the poor start to the season. John Baraza installs some confidence in the players and they try to give their best despite the financial problems they face. I expected them to be in the top 3 and they have not disappointed. I believe that with a stable financial muscle they will be Gor Mahia’s main rivals for the title next season. Rumour has it that they are most likely to lose star striker Umar Kasumba who has 17 goals this far. The UGANDAN has been invited for trials in Germany.
- Kakamega Homeboyz
JOB: A. Allan Wanga’s Kakamega Homeboyz is another team that has thrived after a change in the coaching staff. Nicholas Muyoti has led them to a fourth-place finish, and this is a solid performance. They have had a solid campaign.
LARKY: – B: Allan Wanga and Nicholas Muyoti have done magic since Coach Paul Nkata left. Were the players sabotaging Nkata? Or was it true that he was match fixing? A complete turnaround by the team from Kakamega. The revival has seen star man Allan Wanga get to the top of KPL 2018/19 season’s top scorers chat with 18 goals so far. He is my candidate for the player of the season.
- Mathare United
JOB: B. Francis Kimanzi’s team plays the best football in the Kenyan premier league, aside from possibly Kariobangi Sharks. They fell off after leading the league for a while, due to a small squad that was so stretched they had to withdraw from the sportpesa shield. James Kinyanjui has been a joy to watch.
LARKY: B. A typical Mathare Utd season. As usual, they started strongly and faded at the start of the 2nd half of the season. Sources say that the players have gone up to 4 months without pay thus the dip in form. There are some positives from the team with Jonhstone Omurwa and David Owino being regulars for NT u/23 side. Also, Cliff Nyakeya has continued from where he left last season, my candidate for Midfielder of the season. Gor Mahia is chasing his signature according to reliable sources.
- Sony sugar
JOB: A. Sony sugar have had a quietly impressive season, in the top five, and despite woes in the sugar sector milling companies, they can look back at this season with pride. Their achievements are helped by their top scorer Derrick Otanga who has a creditable 12 KPL goals this season.
LARKY: A: my team of the season. What a season they have had despite the financial difficulties! A complete contrast of last season’s performance by the 2008 KPL champions. They have been strong at home. Enock Agwanda has been formidable for them. The captain has led from the front by scoring goals and pressing from the front when the opposition has the ball. The team has some exciting talents that are national team bound. Keep an eye on Joshua Otieno, Tobias Otieno, Kelvin Omondi and Derrick Otenga
JOB: C. One of the most disappointing clubs of the season. Tusker is the only team not named Gor Mahia that has won the league in the last six years, and with the backing of EABL, and coached by Robert Matano, seventh is not where I expect to see them.
LARKY: C: for the KPL to be more competitive a team with stable financial support should perform better than what we have seen this season. I don’t think that I have ever watched a more inconsistent Tusker FC side than this one. IMO coach Matano’s tactics are out-dated. I would advise EABL to disband the team and use those funds to sponsor a community team. EDITOR:
- Kenya CB
JOB: A. KCB has had a hugely creditable return to the KPL this season, even beating AFC twice and Gor once. They have never been at risk of relegation, and are my dark horses to get into the top five next season. Backed by one of the largest banks in East Africa, they have the finances to have a big impact on the KPL.
LARKY:– B-: I expected them to perform better considering that they don’t have financial problems faced by most teams in the KPL. They have lost a lot of points from winning positions. Is it due to the tactical ineptness of Coach Frank Ouna? Or is it because the lost two of their most influential in Dennis Gicheru and Anthony Gathu who decided to join Wazito FC at the beginning of the season? Only time will tell. IMO it won’t be long until Coach Sammy Omollo ‘Pamzo’ takes the position of head coach.
LARKY: Ulinzi – C: a very inconsistent season. The replacement of Coach Danstone Nyaudo with Nyangweso did not bring much impact. The redeployment of players affected the team negatively. It has affected the cohesion of the team. It has been a positive season for the team’s main man Enosh Ochieng who has 17 goals so far, the only positive thing worth mentioning.
Here is part two of the KPL review, looking at the bottom half of the teams in the KPL, as well as drawing conclusions on the season.