NAIROBI, Kenya, November 25- After 20,880 plus minutes of football across 232 games, it is great irony that only a single point separates two potential Kenyan Premier League 2011 champions.
Titleholders Ulinzi Stars and leaders Tusker head to Saturday’s final day fixtures known that shortly after 4pm (+3GMT) one of their jubilant captains will be lifting the big eared KPL trophy.
After attempts to have the Brewers to stage their final match in Naivasha, that is close to Nakuru where Ulinzi will for the second season running play their closing encounter was resisted, at least the losing side is certain of being shielded from the din of the eventual champions.
The KPL secretariat opted to transport the genuine trophy to where the champions-in-waiting, Tusker FC will be fielding in Mumias, approximately 188.45km from the soldiers’ Afraha Stadium fortress where a replica cup will be kept just in case.
While other teams around them enjoyed lean spells through their campaign, Tusker seized the initiative to establish a consistent run of results and by the penultimate fixtures, they have accumulated 55 points.
“We have been getting solid results throughout the seasons and my team has managed to hang on even when things are not going our way,” the Brewers head coach, Sammy Omollo said.
Should his side run through relegated Congo United as expected, then winning the title for Tusker, a first since 2007 when Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee was in charge, would be a moment of personal triumph.
Last season, Omollo saw his enterprising but limited Mahakama FC side axed from the KPL and few doubted his appointment to one of the league’s high profile clubs.
His Ulinzi equivalent, Benjamin Nyangweso saw his side enjoy a stuttering start to the campaign with a doomed CAF Champions League outing and regional military games disrupting their league charge.
The soldiers steadied the ship by adding the KPL Top 8 trophy with a 2-1 win over Western Stima before they travelled for the CISM World Military Games in the middle of the season.
That saw a row erupt as KPL first docked them six points for forfeiting their matches against Chemelil and Sofapaka before the tug of war between all the parties saw the decision rescinded and the teams called upon to replay the fixtures.
With two matches in hand over Tusker, Nyangweso’s team strung an impressive run of results reminiscent of their storming run to the crown last season until defeats to AFC Leopards (1-0) and Sofapaka (2-0) inside a week wiped out the advantage.
“We live it all to God. We will just do our work and hope for the best,” Nyangweso said ahead of their meeting with Rangers FC.
Last season, Ulinzi were in Tusker’s position, leading the table by a point from Gor Mahia with a game to play before the wrapped the title by beating Karuturi Sport 2-0 in Nakuru as City Stars held Gor 0-0.
The other key matter to be settled on Saturday is who among Bandari and City Stars will join Congo in the relegation scrap heap.
The Coast side are on the driving seat with a two point advantage and travel to tricky Chemelil Sugar while City Stars face Karuturi who for the second season running, have a huge say in the destiny of the league having secured their position.
Elsewhere, pride is at stake when Sofapaka host Gor Mahia at Nyayo National Stadium with the former guaranteed of third place while defeat for the latter and a win for archrivals AFC Leopards will see them lose fourth place.
Leopards face KCB at City, Thika United host Western Stima and Sony Sugar welcome Mathare United in Awendo with all final day fixtures kicking-off simultaneously at 2pm.