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Four horses left in KPL title chase

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CHEMELIL-ULINZINAIROBI, Kenya, September 22 – Despite coming unstuck against champions Gor Mahia, Chemelil Sugar head coach Mike Mururi maintains the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title chase is still a four-horse race.

“We are still in the race because if you look at the log it’s only a difference of six points to catch up with Gor so we can recover since we still have five matches to play. The battle is between the top four teams,” Mururi a former international declared.

On Saturday Talisman Dan Sserunkuma’s brace lifted K’Ogalo to 47 points, four clear of Sofapaka who duly piled on the pressure on Sunday by slashing the deficit to one with a 1-0 win over Muhoroni Youth.

Tusker FC, who were considered among the favourites to win their 11th crown, lost further ground and have five points to claw back when they were forced by relegation-threatened Nairobi City Stars to a 1-1 draw, their fourth successive stalemate that has stalled their charge.

With five matches to go, K’Ogalo are in prime position to retain the title on paper, having played a game less besides having an easier run in with Sofapaka technically their hardest fixture.

Bandari, City Stars, Mathare United, Muhoroni and a final game against KRA rounds-up their campaign.

However, Gor head coach Frank Nuttall who won his first match with the team believes determination and collecting maximum points in their remaining four home games in six will hand them the title.

“It’s difficult to tell if we will win the league because it’s getting intense every time but so long as we are on the go and take each game as it comes we will win it,” the Dutchman underscored.

Silent contenders Batoto Ba Mungu, have a mountain to climb in order to reclaim the crown they lifted five years ago, since they have to manoeuvre tricky fixtures against Sony Sugar, KRA, Gor a team they have just beaten once since they entered the league, AFC Leopards and Tusker in a potential title decider on the last day.

-Tusker lose fizz-

“The bad thing we can do at this point is to press the panic button which we are not going to do. We have to fight in the remaining matches and hope to win,” the current face of Tusker FC, assistant head coach, Leonard Odipo said after they dropped points in Ruaraka on Friday.

To clinch the title, the Brewers must win all remaining fixtures against Ulinzi Stars, Mathare United, Muhoroni, KRA and Thika United before their final day crunch hoping the top two slip.

Of the top four contenders Chemelil are considered as the underdogs but Mururi is confident they will overcome the soldiers, KCB, AFC Leopards, KRA and Thika to maintain hopes of winning a first title.

Below the title showdown, the battle of who finishes in the top eight intensifies with stuttering giants Leopards on 29 struggling to claw the four point gap between them and the taxmen who occupy the last of the positions.

Ingwe, who boast an imposing squad, had to come from 2-0 to salvage a point against the Bankers at their Mumias home to remain stuck in 12th on the log.

-Relegation mire-

The battle to avoid the relegation trapdoor is also as intense with debutants Nakuru All Stars at the basement on 16, four behind City Stars with KCB just above the drop zone on 23.

With only three wins this season, All Stars are two loses away from the axe with Leopards, Bandari who are not entirely safe, Western Stima, City Stars and KCB yet to come.

Having survived the drop by a whisker in the previous three seasons, City Stars need another Houdini act but the Bankers are looking the most likely to secure survival having fallen from finishing fourth last season to find themselves in the relegation mire for the first time since 2010.

“A win against Gor will boost us a lot and I know we can do it because everybody wants to die for the team. We know our position so we just have to keep on soldiering on and hope we come out of that danger zone,” City Stars Nigerian head coach, Robinson Ndumbuisi, said ahead of their next fixture against the champions.

Other games remaining for City Stars are Sony, Muhoroni, All Stars and Mathare United.

Western Stima, Chemelil, Bandari, Sony Sugar and a final day engagement against survival rivals All Stars are still to come for KCB who would have moved further from the abyss had they held on in Mumias.

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