NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – This weekend, Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clubs are preparing for their third fixture in just a week’s time, creating uproar amongst the teams who say bearing the burden might take a toll on the players even before mid-season.
KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda has however, urged the clubs to brace for the tough run with the league having started a month late as well as the need to finish the season early to give the national team time to prepare for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) next year.
“I don’t see a reason why they should complain but we understand it’s a huge call for the players and the technical bench but it’s a price we have to pay for starting the league late. Yes, the clubs have complained, but matches shave to go on,” Oguda told Capital Sport.
Among the clubs which feel hit is Kakamega Homeboyz who have been left to make back and forth trips in and out of their Kakamega base.
Having played on Saturday in Nairobi against defending champions Tusker FC, a match they lost 1-0, they travelled back to Kakamega to face Western Stima on Wednesday, winning 1-0. They are now faced with another long trip to face Thika United in Thika.
“I think it is very tough for us and the players. We now have to look at ways of mitigating this. I have been forced to reduce the training sessions and make them less intense and we are also looking at diet for the players. It is not an easy scenario,” Homeboyz head coach Mike Mururi said.
His sentiments were shared by his Chemelil Sugar counterpart Juma Abdallah who called for a leaner organization of the fixtures, admitting it has hit his club hard.
“It becomes hard to demand the same energy from the players when you are faced with such kind of fixtures especially when you have to travel. I think the league managers should consider because at the end of the day we will not have good football,” Abdallah noted.
“It’s not good for football to play three games in a week. But it’s all teams who are faced with this scenario. We have to be used to play tight games,” Sofapaka’s Sam Ssimbwa whose side travels to Awasi to face Chemelil this weekend noted.
Oguda has however, said they will work out a formula to ease the burden, including slotting in fixtures during the GOtv Shield weekends.
“We will talk with the federation and ask whether it would be possible to have league fixtures during the GOtv Shield for teams who will not be playing. We also have the elections coming up in August so we are forced to juggle with so much,” Oguda commented.
The lack of pitches has also been another headache for the league organizers with the Nyayo and Kasarani Stadia having been closed down for renovations. The Ruaraka Complex along Thika Road which had been another alternative for league fixtures was only recently opened.
Though the argument has been that even clubs in Europe play congested fixtures, the dynamics in the local league are different.
Mode of transport, recovery and diet are quite advanced in European League hence it becomes easier for them to manage.