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KPL set for blistering 2014 ride

JERIM-AGWASHNAIROBI, Kenya, January 9 – When people all over the world usher in the New Year, every one sets resolutions or targets they want to achieve.

The same case applies to local football where with 2014 only days old, various clubs are preparing for the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season that kicks-off on February 15.

According to club bosses, the new season means a lot to their teams, and virtually all of them have set objectives they want to achieve by the end of the year.

This season the prestigious league will feature new entrants by the name of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Nakuru based Top Fry All Stars who earned promotion after winning the Division one play-offs.

The taxmen had to come from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw against former KPL side Posta Rangers where they won 6-4 on post match penalties, while All Stars beat former champions Oserian FC by a solitary goal to book a slot in the league for the first time in history.

The two replaced Karuturi Sports and Kakamega Homeboyz who were relegated to the second tie.

KPL CEO Jack Oguda, told Capital Sport he is optimistic top flight club football in the country will improve this season, which will be a plus to the national team Harambee Stars.

“We are currently working on the fixtures that will incorporate the national team, Top 8, GOtv Shield and Cecafa Club Championships. This is because we want the league to run smoothly and any changes will be done according to the rules.

“We anticipate to have a better league this year, since many matches will be taken outside Nairobi, and this will reduce matches that are played in the capital city,” the KPL boss who confirmed they have already signed membership contracts with KRA and Top Fry told.

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League champions Gor Mahia, have stated intent to continue with their good form by increasing their silverware from two, that they clinched last season, the KPL title and DSTV Super Cup.

through their coach Bobby Williamson, and captain Jerim Onyango, have urged their fans, the Green Armyto rally behind them just as they did last season.

“When I joined Gor, I new what I wanted, I had set my goals which I shared with my players, and I’m very happy to have taken the most popular football club in the country this far.

“The new season is around the corner and we are aware of what is ahead of us. Our first objective is to defend the league and then look at other competitions.

“It’s obvious we want to win every title we come across, but that will depend on the programmes  we have lined up,” the Scotsman who joined K’Ogalo in July stated.

“That’s why the club management thought it was wise to take the team outside Nairobi and train under a high altitude environment.

“After winning the league, it was pretty sure we will play more games, since we will represent the country in the CAF Champions League and at the same time compete in KPL and not forgetting the Cecafa club championships.

“In order for this to be successful, we have to increase the pace, strength and endurance of the players so that they can manage playing many matches.”

For Gor to achieve some of their dreams, they have to strengthen their squad especially in the goalkeeping and defense.

With the transfer window still opened, the Champions have acquired the services of Ugandan left back Godfrey Walusimbi, Western Stima trio custodian David Juma, Daniel Onyango and Kevin Oluoch, Chemelil Sugar’s Jared Obwoge, Haron Shakava from Kakamega Homeboyz, midfielder Joseph Kariuki from Karuturi Sports, forwards Rama Salim and George ‘Black Berry’ Odhiambo who makes a come back.

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K’Ogalo will host Gabonese side US Britam, in the first round of the Champions League on the weekend of February 7 to 9 in Nairobi.

Apart from that, they will compete in domestic competitions which include, the GOtv Shield, Top- Eight and Dstv SuperSport Cup.

Arch-rivals AFC Leopards, are said to have splashed big in signing players ahead of the new season.

Coach James Nandwa, says they are focusing on winning the League which they last lifted 16 years ago and reaching at least the Group Stage of the Confederations Cup.

Ingwe who finished second last season, beat perennial rivals Gor 1-0 in the GOtv Shield finals to book the continental showpiece berth.

“My first priority after the league concluded, was to beef up the squad. And I’m very happy to say I have made five crucial signing which will add value to the team as we prepare for a tough season ahead,” Nandwa who also serves as Harambee Stars assistant coach uttered.

“Even though most of my players are injured after participating in the Mapinduzi Cup, I can say the tournament really gave players exposure, since we used the competition as part of our pre- season.”

Leopards have brought in experienced players who include, former Tusker FC skipper Joseph Shikokoti, Kenyan international James Situma, keeper Wycliffe Kasaya, Ugandan Musa Mudde and KPL Top Scorer Jacob Keli among others.

They begin their competitive match with the continental assignment against Defence of Ethiopia in mid February.

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Elsewhere, 2011 and 2012 champions Tusker FC, have also embarked on bolstering the squad to reclaim the title, introducing former national team tactician, Francis Kimanzi, as the head coach, following the sacking of Robert Matano.

Three weeks after his appointment, Kimanzi guided the Brewers to win the DSTV SuperSport Cup, to add on to the Top-Eight title they lifted under the tutelage of Matano.

Kimanzi who has signed players that he understands well, says he has the best squad ever and his major goal this season is to win any trophy they come across.

“Every club wants the title this season, but sometimes winning alone is not important than the style, consistency and harmony in the club, so I don’t believe Tusker hired me because they missed the league title last year.

“Yes we want trophies even the grounds man at Tusker needs the Cup,” the former Sofapaka coach stressed after beating Gor 5-4 on penalties in the DSTV SuperSport Cup.

KCB duo of midfielder Brian Osumba and forward Clifford Alwanga, Former Mathare United trio, Lloyd Wahome, Osborne Monday and midfielder Dennis Nzomo have joined the Brewers.

2009 champions Sofapaka are also gearing up to have a successful outing, and club president Elly Kalekwa, told Capital Sport, his main aim is to reclaim the title.

“There are many other trophies that we will be competing for, but our main target is to win the league and that’s why I want to sign six more players to join the already four in the club. We are mainly looking to add strikers and one defender, after the departure of our captain Situma,” the flamboyant chairman told.

The ‘Batoto ba Mungu’ have relocated to Machakos County, and will use Kenyatta Stadium as their home turf.

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KCB who are always referred as pace setters, this time round promised to better their fourth position last season.

Head coach Abdalla Juma, is proud of producing some of the best players that have earned a call up to the national team and joining other top clubs in the country.

These are in the likes of Keli, Brian Osumba, Paul Kiongera and Ezekiel Odera among others.

Juma who is yet to sign players, will have to shop for more than six players ahead of the new season, since most of his players opted for other teams in the country.

The bankers, who scoped the highest number of accolades during last years Footballer of the Year Awards, will be seeking to bolster their midfield and attacking.

Kawagware based City Stars, who usually start on a high in the first leg, and end up fighting for survival in the league, will have a new strategy, more so after appointing a new technical bench that will be led by Nigerian Robinson Ndubuisi as the head coach.

“The team started training this week, and since the boys are under new management, I’m yet to have a word with them and set our targets.

“The only challenge we face is lack of finance which has delayed our efforts to bring in new players, since we have dropped none. We hope to start the league well and possibly with our good performance a sponsor will come on the way,” club chairman Peter Jabuya, declared.

Newcomers KRA and All Stars have strongly stated they will overcome the odds, which have seen promoted teams finding themselves being relegated the same season.

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“I want to stay in the league and win, because I believe I’m the best. I’m number one,” KRA coach Ken Kenyatta said.

All that people can say,  is to only wish the teams the best of luck and wait to see if the clubs will achieve their goals.

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