NAIROBI, Kenya, March 26 – League Champions Gor Mahia will battle it out with Thika United in the preliminary round of this year’s Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Top- Eight knock out tournament that kicks-off on the weekend of April 5 and 6.
In other pairing Cup winners AFC Leopards will take on Bandari while Sofapaka will square it out with defending champions Tusker FC in the toughest as KCB play Ulinzi Stars.
The annual competition was launched in 2010 with intention of collecting funds that will be channeled in the KPL Under-19 tournament that is being held three times in a year (April, August and December) when the schools are on holiday.
Speaking on Wednesday when conducting the draw, KPL CEO Jack Oguda, said the fourth edition will be spread across the Counties where the teams come from with Machakos, Nakuru and Kisumu being on fore front.
“We realized it is a challenge trying to get more sponsors to join our league. We urge our fans to turn up in large numbers so that we can collect money for this year’s under-19 tournament. Last year we raised Sh1.3m (USD 15,194.2)
“We want to develop soccer in the grass roots and that’s why we decided to take this year’s competition to regions where the league is played.
“We will have a Governing Council meeting to determine which team plays who, when and the venue since we have to review the league’s fixture to ensure they don’t clash,” the KPL chief declared.
KPL and Gor chairman Ambrose Rachier, said they are looking forward to start established youth structures that will see young footballers grow to the senior level.
“GOR and AFC performed poorly in the continental scene simply because they were playing teams that have depth in terms of talent which they tap from a tender age. We should emphasize in youth football but not getting people who are above 20 years and start training them hoping they will compete with North Africans and teams from Europe.”
Organisers earlier on announced the eight-team competition will be staged on weekends unlike its weekday floodlights tradition.
Four teams will be eliminated in the preliminary knock out round with the same number earning berths to the semi-finals that will be played in home and away basis.
At this stage KPL will cater for the teams logistics and allowances with the finals set for June 14 where the winner will take home Sh1m (USD 11, 534).
Tusker beat Thika United United 5-3 on post-match penalties after 2-2 draw in regulation time to see them lift the third edition.
No team has ever defended the title with Batoto Ba Mungu claiming the inaugural (2010) Ulinzi Stars (2011), K’Ogalo (2012) and the Brewers (2013).
Gor Mahia Vs Thika United
AFC Leopards Vs Bandari
Sofapaka Vs Tusker
KCB Vs Ulinzi Stars