NAIROBI, Kenya, November 21 – A psychiatrist had to be hired for newly crowned Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Player of the Year and KCB striker, Jacob Keli, to get firing again after he went six games without scoring.
Whatever the medic told him helped the former Harambee Stars Under-23 captain have a monster second season that saw him emerge the Golden Boot winner besides picking up the biggest accolade on the night during the 2013 Footballer of the Year gala on Wednesday.
“It has been a spectacular and fruitful season for me but behind this success, it has been hard work and determination and after I became strong mentally, I scored two goals against Bandari and it flowed smoothly since then.
“When Jesse Were was at 14 goals, I was at eight, you can believe the catching up I had to do and am very grateful to God for giving me this opportunity because it has not been luck, it’s all effort,” the striker who closed the campaign with 17 league goals told Capital Sport after he was crowned the best of them all.
“I have a fatherly love for my coach Abdalla Juma, he believed in me from the first day of January pre-season and told he wanted to build the team around me, that showed he had trust in me and I’m glad I did not fail him,” Keli who was accompanied by his wife and son Remmy, told amid tears of joy.
The Kenyan international revealed he wants a new challenge with playing in Europe his big dream.
“After winning the Golden Boot and the Best Player in the domestic league, there is nothing more I can win here because I have already achieved, I only have to be very careful and patient.”
Winning the KPL top award has been a poisoned chalice with previous holders disappearing under the radar but Keli believes he will buck the trend since they all faltered after agitating for a move away from the domestic top flight.
“It’s all about playing time and it’s not that the previous winners have disappeared, I usually chat with Kevin Kimani and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo.
“They are playing where they are and earning money it’s just that we don’t get information of how they are doing,” he stated in reference to two of his predecessors who fell from grace after winning the award.
“I could not have won this big prize without the support of my colleagues, the likes of Clifford Alwanga, Michael Oyando and Brian Osumba who provided the assists, I love them as my brothers and am really grateful to them,” the 22 year old who dedicated the award to his son, who kisses every boot he scores with, expressed.
Keli beat Gor Mahia’s David Owino and Bandari’s Shaban Kenga who placed first and second runner-ups to take home the coveted prize.
The bankers who finished fourth this season scooped the highest number of trophies during this year’s event, after they shed their tag as pace setters to enjoy a solid season.
Apart from winning the top scorer and Best Player, the club bagged runner-up keeper of the year (Sammy Okinda), midfielder (Brian Osumba), coach (Abdallah Juma), team manager (Josephat Okal) and runner-up defender (John Odhiambo).
KPL champions Gor Mahia, who won most awards last season went home with three awards two of these by defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino who was named best defender and came third in the best player category while captain Jerim Onyango, grabbed the goalkeeper of the season.
Their bitter rivals AFC Leopards, walked home with only one award courtesy of Allan Wanga who settled for third top scorer with 11 goals, four behind Tusker FC’s Jesse Were.
Each category came with a cash prize of Sh100, 000 (USD 1160.77) for the winners, Sh75, 000 (USD 870.58) for the first runners up and Sh50, 000 (580.38) for third placed players.
Ugandan and K’Ogalo forward Dan Sserunkuma won last season’s Best Player of the year.
1. Jacob Keli – KCB
2. Shaban Kenga – Bandari
3. David Owino – Gor Mahia
GOAL KEEPER OF YEAR
1. Jerim Onyango – Gor Mahia
2. Sammy Okinda – KCB
3. Wycliffe Kasaya (Sony)/Wilson Obungu (Bandari)
DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
1. David Owino – Gor Mahia
2. John Odhiambo – KCB
3. Felly Mulumba – Sofapaka
MIDFIELDER OF THE YEAR
1. Brian Osumba – KCB
2. Francis Kahata – Thika United
3. Peter Opiyo – AFC Leopards
NEW YOUNG PLAYER
1. Sammy Meja – Thika United
2. Michael Olunga – Tusker
3. Stephen Wakanya – Chemelil
Doris Petra – FKF
FAIR PLAY AWARD PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1. Dennis Onkangi – Western Stima
2. Shaban Kenga – Bandari
3. Oliver Ruto – Ulinzi Stars
FAIR PLAY TEAM OF THE YEAR
1. Western Stima
COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Abdalla Juma – KCB
2. Twahir Muhiddin – Bandari
3. David Ouma – Sofapaka
TEAM MANAGER OF YEAR
1. Josphat Okal – KCB
2. Dan Omondi – Karuturi Sports
3. Alfred Achayo – Bandari
MOST IMPROVED CENTER REFEREE OF THE YEAR
1. Davis Omweno
2. Anthony Ongwayo
3. Tabitha Wambui
MOST IMPROVED ASSISTANT REFEREE OF THE YEAR
1. Aden Marwa
2. Peter Kiereini
3. Dorcas Moraa