Zoo Kericho and Nakumatt back to KPL, but hope for lasting solution

By alex wafula
Oct 06, 2017
  • Nakumatt will be at home to Muhoroni Youth after a two-week suspension. (SNA. File Photo)

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal in Nairobi issued stay orders that saw Nakumatt FC and Zoo Kericho reinstated to the Kenyan Premier League after a High Court ruling two weeks ago ordered for a 16-team KPL.

The three-judge bench at the Appeal Court ruled that the two should play in the top tier pending the hearing and determination of Football Kenya Federation’s appeal in November.

But, while both teams enjoy the temporary reprieve, they are worried about the outcome of the Appeal though they are confident they will not be plucked off again.

“It is a huge thing for us. But, the worrying thing for the team and especially the players is the uncertainty about the outcome of the appeal. They are still not sure if it will be in the same direction,” Sammy Okoth, the Zoo Kericho coach said.

In a case presented by Sam Nyamweya, the former FKF boss, a High Court ruling delivered by Judge John Mativo directed that the top tier league revert to a 16-team format.

This in turn saw both Zoo and Nakumatt who were promoted after the league was expanded bungled out.

However, in its argument before the Appeal Court on Tuesday, FKF said it would not be practicable to drop the two teams because they had already played 25 matches in the league while the second tier was also at an advanced stage.

“For us, we are happy to get back to the league because we worked for it and we have played well this season. We want this thing to be done away with once and for all so that the players focus on the league and not their fate,” Alfred Wesonga, the Nakumatt FC CEO further added.

The two teams will now have to tackle a tough patch of fixtures to play catch up after the two week suspension.

While Zoo Kericho will be at home to Kakamega Homeboyz, Nakumatt will be at home against relegation fighting Muhoroni Youth.

Tough for players to train

Zoo Kericho coach Okoth admitted it had been tough for the players to train after the suspension, but remains confident the reinstatement will ignite some confidence.

Third-placed Homeboyz have been in a scintillating form this season and have won three of their last five matches. They come up against a Zoo Kericho side which has lost four of their last five league matches. 

The first leg was an exciting affair in Mumias which ended 3-3.

“Our target is to get off that position in the table and move to safety. We have not performed well in the last few matches and we know that Homeboyz is not an easy team. But we have that small motivation of getting back to the league. That will push us,” Okoth further noted.

Homeboyz will be keen to keep their outside hopes of the title alive. Mike Mururi’s men are 15 points off leaders Gor and have underscored their target will be to bag all three.

Fourth-placed Ulinzi Stars saw their title hopes diminish after last weekend’s loss to Mururi’s men. They are now 19 points adrift despite the fact they have to matches at hand, one of them being against leaders Gor.

They travel away to SoNy Sugar, a side that has always been a tough nut to crack for them. The two sides have met twice already this season.

In a league fixture in Nakuru, Ulinzi rallied from a goal down to draw 1-1. They again met in the GOtv Shield quarter finals where SoNy won 1-0.

GOtv dress rehearsal

AFC Leopards and Kariobangi Sharks will duel at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos in what will be a dress rehearsal for the GOtv Shield final to be played in two weeks’ time in Nairobi.

Although both coaches insist the match on Saturday will have no correlation whatsoever with the Shield final on October 20, a lot is going to be at stake. Kariobangi Sharks won the first leg 2-0.

“It will not be easy despite the fact that AFC Leopards have not been performing well. They are one of the strongest teams in the league and their form has been down to luck. I just think they have been very unlucky. We will approach them with a lot of caution,” William Muluya, the Kariobangi Sharks coach said.

With only one win from their last five league matches, AFC Leopards are struggling and are in danger of dipping into the relegation zone.

Assistant coach Tom Juma has admitted that the team is treading on dangerous grounds, and insisted they will need to be razor sharp against Kariobangi Sharks.

In this match, AFC Leopards will be without two dependable defenders Robinson Kamura and Dennis Sikhayi who are both with the national team in its Asian tour of friendly matches.

“They are very important players to the team because of the impact and role they play. It will be a loss for us missing them but again if we look at it positively, it is an opportunity for us to see other players and what they can offer,” Juma explained.

He is cautious about his side’s approach to the Premier League newbies who have performed well.

in their debut season in top flight. A win will take Kariobangi Sharks back into the top five while AFC Leopards will be fighting tooth and nail to reach the 35 point mark and assure themselves of safety.

KPL Saturday fixtures (All matches kick off 3 p.m.)

SoNy Sugar v Ulinzi Stars (Awendo), Western Stima v Bandari (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Zoo Kericho v Kakamega Homeboyz (Kericho Green Stadium), Nakumatt FC v Muhoroni Youth (Ruaraka Complex), Kariobangi Sharks v AFC Leopards (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos).