The good, bad and ugly of the 2013 KPL season
The 2013 Kenyan Premier League is over and as Gor Mahia savours their victory, we take stock of the good, bad and ugly that was part of the season.
K’Ogalo became the first community team in three years to lift the coveted trophy while two other self-sponsored clubs AFC Leopards and Sofapaka were second and third.
Amid the high adrenalin, twists and turns of competition the underdogs pushed title contenders to the limit, only falling out on the home stretch.
Comeback Mombasa-based Bandari upset the form book. Pessimists rated them as peripheral and lacking in the substance that the Premier League big boys are made off. But their strong sixth place finish has shifted opinions.
Former Harambee Stars head coach Twahir Muhiddin guided the team to its best league position after being last in 2011. Consistency will be key for Bandari next season if they expect better results.
KCB, who appeared to be heading downhill, surprised many by making their way through the crowd to challenge for the title.
Coach Abdalla Juma who replaced James Omondi did a major shakeup which helped the team to take position four. Players such as Dan Makori and Ezekiel Odera were shown the door. Just like Bandari, they will be a team to watch next season.
The fight for the golden boot was tight. Four players battled for honours but it is KCB’s Jacob Keli who emerged head above shoulders with 17 goals. The others were Jesse Were (15), Clifford Alwanga (14) and Allan Wanga 11.
Another season highlight was the peaceful second leg league match between arch-rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards dubbed the Mashemeji derby. After the teams fought to a 2-2 draw fans were contented with the final result.
Also worth noting is the domestic cup GOtv Shield final between the giants which ended with no major hooliganism reported despite Leopards bagging the title after beating K’Ogalo 1-0.
But the season was not without sideshows. The ugly head of hooliganism reared itself again. Sony Sugar joined the unwanted party when they attacked match officials during a disputed match against Gor.
In another ugly scene, the Mashemeji derby first leg league match ended in chaos when seats were ripped out and equipment damaged at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani. The teams were each fined Sh1million.
Similarly, AFC Leopards’ 1-2 loss to Bandari at Mbaraki Stadium also triggered mayhem. Fans assaulted referee Damaris Wangari. and equipment worth Sh600,000 belonging to Bandari was destroyed.
There was an improvement in individual goal scoring prowess which was, however, watered down by the average goals per game.
The coaching musical chairs was also inevitable this season, with Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Sofapaka, KCB, Karuturi, City Stars, Sony Sugar and Ulinzi all changing management within the season.
AFC Leopards perhaps is the most notable, as they sacked Tom Olaba barely three months after the start of the season. His replacement, Belgian Luc Eymael was also shown the door towards the end of the season. Harambee Stars assistant coach James Nandwa has since taken the hot seat.
It remains to be seen if Leopards will keep the faith in Nandwa. Top clubs have a tendency for going for foreign coaches who are paid huge perks at the expense of home grown talent.
Nandwa was in charge when national team Harambee Stars reached the Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Senior Senior Challenge Cup finals but lost to Uganda Cranes at the Nambole Stadium in Kampala.
Tusker have sacked coach Robert Matano and replaced him with Francis Kimanzi. Matano was hired at the end of last season after firing Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo. Matano who took over with only a few matches left last season helped the team win the premier league title last year.
But since the 2013 season kick off the champions struggled and ended their campaign at a disappointing fifth place finish.