It looks like an exciting year for football in Kenya.
Remember a time when a team could refuse to be relegated from the KPL in spite of their poor performance? Or when one team could have two factions, each training separately? Or when there was no such thing as salaries for players.. they only got allowances when training (if any) and when playing (like Kshs. 500/100 a day )
Now things have changed! Football clubs have corporate sponsorships. For example, Gor is sponsored by Tuzo; AFC Leopards by Mumias Sugar (Utamu halisi!); Sofapaka by Blue Triangle Cement and Tusker by, as you can guess, EABL. Clubs can afford to pay players salaries in addition to allowances.
Rules are followed as the KPL is a FIFA-recognized. Teams that perform poorly at the end of the season (bottom 2) are relegated to the also FIFA-recognized Nationwide League ( 2nd tier), and the two at the top of the Nationwide League get promoted to the KPL.
There is a Supersport deal the KPL has signed with DSTv to ensure live coverage of some featured matches every weekend! So if you can’t travel to watch your match, you can watch these games live. (I think the main advantage DSTv has over Zuku TV is only Supersport!)
Fans have set up websites for their teams, most notable being AFC Leopards. They even have a magazine out, called Ingwe Fan, and two issues published so far. The third will come out this month.
Speaking of AFC Leopards, by now it should be clear I’m a fan. This past Sunday, I was in Nakuru to watch the KPL clash against 2010 KPL Champions, Ulinzi Stars whose home ground is Afraha Stadium. Ulinzi Stars is a team by the Kenya Defence Forces. I don’t know if they have bonokos instead of real guns, but they just couldn’t shoot to score! I mean, they wasted two PELANTIES! (typo is deliberate)
They were given a penalty in the first half, which was saved by our keeper, Patrick Matasi (I crowned him man of the match!). In the second half, we were awarded a penalty, and Jonas Paco, Rwandase international, slotted home the penalty putting us in the lead.
Our players then did their dance, this time by marching and mocking salutes! You gotta love them <3
From left.. Amon Muchiri (14), Mike Baraza (11), Allan Wanga (9), Mang'oli (22) show the soldiers how it's done!!
Ulinzi then got another penalty, which was once again saved by Matasi! They lost their chance to equalize! Later in the second half, Allan Wanga scored through a free-kick, a blazing speeding ball landed on the back of the net throwing us fans into a frenzy!
Allan Wanga and Jonas Paco .. dush, dush. That's 2 for you Ulinzi! (These pictures courtsey of friends on FB)
AFC is now on top of the league with Sofapaka, but we top on goal difference. See, we haven’t conceded any goals this season! Our scores have been 0-0; 2-0; 2-0; 2-0.
The next match is against Muhoroni Youth at Nyayo Stadium, Sunday 11th March, 4pm. See you there.