Ulinzi lose ground in title race

Oct 26, 2010

Gor Mahia's 1-0 victory over perennial rivals AFC Leopards and subsequent defeats of leaders Ulinzi Stars and reigning champions Sofapaka opened a four-way KPL race unprecedented in recent years.

Sadly, the tragic events of last Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium only served to divert public attention from the title chase.

Ulinzi's shock 0-1 defeat at home to Western Stima gave Gor Mahia a life line as the latter came within touching distance of the leaders. Third-placed Tusker shot themselves in the foot after only managing a barren draw with Mathare united.

On paper though, any of the top four teams (Ulinzi, Gor, Tusker and Sofapaka) still stand mathematical chances of bagging the title so long as the other contenders lose all their matches.

However with 52 points, Ulinzi can be crowned the new champions if they win two and a manage draw in their last three matches for an unassailable 59 points. Second-placed Gor can only attain a maximum of 58 points.

Sofapaka appear to have the easiest fixtures as the league concludes. The champions host Posta Rangers next weekend, then visit relegation-bound Mahakama on the penultimate round. Thika United, who have had a very poor season, will be their last opponent on November 13.

If Sofapaka fails to retain the league, goal poacher John Baraza is likely to give the team some small consolation if he goes on to win the golden boot for a second successive year.

The predatory striker has already bagged 14 goals and could possibly surpass the 15-goal mark he jointly set last year with Tusker's Nigerian import Joseph Emeka.

Ulinzi will be hoping to make the most of their last two home fixtures where they face Sony Sugar on Saturday and Karuturi Sports on the final match day. Their other match will be against fellow paramilitary side Red Berets on November 6 at Karuturi Sports Stadium.

Tusker has to contend with Chemelil (home), AFC Leopards (away) and KCB (home), while Gor Mahia has a date with Thika (away), Sony (home) and City Stars (away). Two wins from these fixtures will guarantee K'ogalo, who have not lost in the second leg, of at worst a second place finish.

Things are similar at the rear end of the table. Apart from Mahakama, any of the other nine teams still stand the looming risk of relegation with only 9 points separating sixth-placed Mathare United and second from bottom Red Berets.

However, the teams that are likely to join Mahakama on the relegation chopping board will most probably be drawn from the trio of Berets, KCB and Chemelil.

Steven Omondi
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