Unbeaten Police and Butali clash in KHU league's highlight

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
May 09, 2021
  • Green Sharks will be in Mombasa and hope to pick teir first points in the LKU league when they play against MSC and Mvita XI. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Kenya Police, the 2013 Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men league champions and Butali Sugar, last year's winners put their unbeaten records on the line when they face off in the key match of this weekend.

The match is an opportunity for Kenya Police to avenge their play-offs finals defeat to Butali Sugar Warriors last year. In December last year, Zack Aura’s brace was enough to dethrone Police off the league title as Butali (formerly Kisumu Simba) won 2-1.

Three points are separating the two sides at the top of the table. Butali are on top with 12 points from four matches while Police are second with nine  from three matches. Both teams are unbeaten.

Keen hockey followers believe this match could determine the outcome of the league because none of the teams will be willing to drop more points after this match.

"The two teams have so far proved they want nothing short of the league title. No one seems to be ready to drop any point and so whoever will win this weekend, will have an upper hand as far as winning the league title is concerned,” Omai Lubai, a former Blue Eaglets coach said.

Brian Saina, the Kenya Police captain is determined to make amends for their heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Butali five months ago having been just few minutes away from extra time. "On Sunday we are playing an important match against our rivals and we will face it as any other match. We want to win and everybody knows that," said Saina.

He added: "It will be very difficult. The two teams know each other very well now and it will be a great, hard-fought game. We know that the team that commits the fewest errors and concentrates across the 70 minutes will be the one with most chance of winning the match."

Butali haven't rested on their laurels after claiming the title as they signed three top class players who have gone into helping the side continue staying at the top of the table. Since joining the club, Seth Oburu, Barnabas Odhiambo and Brian Musasia have been outstanding at the club and will be expected to play a big part in the match for Butali.

Oburu and Odhiambo have scored five goals between them so far and their coach Cliff Okello hopes that the two will be up to the challenge. Both coaches, Okello (Butali) and Kenneth Kaunda (Police) have proved to be rich in tactics in the league so far.

Dangerous in counter attack

Okello’s men have been dangerous in counter attacks and this has seen them score 19 goals in four matches compared to Police's six goals in three matches. The defenses of the two sides have been the meanest in the league-conceding only two goals each.

However Okello says he will take the match as it comes and would prefer to get into the match as underdog and not as champions. “Going into the match as a champion, I will be putting myself and the team under pressure. But if I go as an underdog and play the way the match unfolds will be good for us,” Okello said.

Before taking on Kenya Police on Sunday, Butali will battle it out with KCA-University on Saturday. After three rounds of matches, KCA-U is third on the log with six points.

Green Sharks who have lost two matches in three outings could pick up their first league victory when they travel to Mombasa to face hosts Mombasa Sports Club (MSC) and Mvita XI. They have lost to Butali and Police but believe the trip to the coast will be the turning point of their league campaign.

Coach Nixon Nyanganga believes the time to end the poor has come and looks forward to collecting six points since his players have finally gelled after tough matches with sides he termed as favorites. "I think we are done with sides that we knew will give us a hard time. Butali and Police are some of the strong sides in the league and now that we are done with them, it’s our time to rise up and show that we can also challenge."

The coach added: "The coast trip is going to be our turning point. We want to challenge for the title too." Despite the losses, Nyangaga explained that playing against Butali and Kenya Police early in the season was a good thing for his side too as it enabled him to gauge his players ability of playing in tough matches and was happy with how they performed.

"We lost six points and we are now at the bottom. But the positive thing is that the team has gelled well and players have shown their character and I believe we are now ready for the next matches," he noted.

Yet to collect points

Their first match will be on Saturday afternoon against MSC before taking on Mvita XI on Sunday morning at Mombasa Sports Club. Like Green Sharks, MSC are yet to collect any points.

While Green Sharks has played two matches, MSC has played three. They lost to Mvita XI in their first match of the season before leaving Nairobi empty handed last week after losses to KCA-University and Nakuru Club.

Green Sharks' biggest challenge of the weekend is likely to come from Mvita XI. From four matches, Mvita have won two matches and are placed seventh on the table.

In other matches, Sikh Union Nairobi will battle it out with Strathmore University in a match that could change the standings of the top five teams on the table. Five team’s KCA-U, Western Jaguars, Mvita XI, Sikh Union Nairobi and Strathmore all have six points.

Therefore, the winner between Sikh Union and Strathmore University will move into the top five. Park Road will be hoping to register their second win of the season when they take on Wazalendo in a match that is set to change the standings at the bottom.

Four teams, Nakuru, USIU-A, Wazalendo and Park Road all have three points. In the National women's league, Orange will play Sliders.

Fixtures

May 9: Wazalendo Youth v Impala-National (12 p.m.), Karate Axiom v Park Road Tigers (2 p.m.), Butali Warriors v KCA-U (4 p.m.), MSC v Green Sharks 4 p.m. (MSC). Sikh Union Nairobi v Strathmore (6 p.m.); May 10: Mvita XI v Green Sharks 9 a.m. (MSC), Thika Rovers v Park Road Tigers-National (12 p.m.), Orange v Sliders - Women (2 p.m.), Butali v Police (4 p.m.), Park Road v Wazalendo (6 p.m.)