NAIROBI, October 29- The messy end to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season continues unabated after Sofapaka FC wrote to authorities to consider switching their Saturday’s penultimate game against AFC Leopards from their Mumias home ground on security grounds.
The two clubs were involved in a tempestuous GOtv Shield semi final on October 20 that was abandoned with six minutes to go when Leopards fans unleashed mayhem that degenerated into full scale violence.
Following the acrimonious end to the game, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) ordered Leopards to play their last matches of the season in empty stadia, fined them Sh500,000, directed them to pay host clubs lost revenues, stripped them of the Shield title besides barring them from the third place play-off and awarded Sofapaka the game 2-0.
The heavy sanctions inflamed Ingwe faithful and Saturday’s match at the Mumias Sports Complex is another touch paper with Sofapaka who were leading 2-0 by the time the match was abandoned needing another victory over Leopards to keep their title charge going.
“We have written to KPL to ask them to play the match at a neutral venue for the safety of our team. After what happened, we cannot take any risks with the players and technical bench,” Sofapaka president, Elly Kalekwa, said Wednesday.
“We are deliberating the matter at the moment and decide on the best way forward,” KPL CEO, Jack Oguda told Capital Sport.
Sofapaka were involved in another ill-tempered clash with Leopards archrivals Gor Mahia on Sunday with K’Ogalo fans sparking violence at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos which saw the game they lost 3-2 stopped thrice before it spilled into the streets of the County headquarters after the top of the table clash.
A day after Machakos County Governor, Alfred Mutai banned Gor from the town and surcharged them Sh10m for damages, FKF handed their fans a stadium ban and fined them Sh500,000.
Gor will be in Kisumu to play Muhoroni Youth and victory at Moi Stadium coupled with a ‘favour’ from their in-laws against Sofapaka will see the defending champions retain their crown.
“Our trip to that part of the country could be dangerous because of the underlying tensions between our team and AFC and Gor especially now when both will be there at the same time. I hope the authorities will see the risk and give us a favourable decision to avoid further damage,” Kalekwa whose club were also fined Sh300, 000 for failing to provide adequate security as the home side in Machakos added.
“We have to accept that decision and move on for the sake of the game. It is sad when such incidents occur because football is a beautiful game where we should all shake hands irrespective of the outcome,” he stressed.
With FKF also reversing KPL’s decision and awarding Muhoroni their abandoned tie against Tusker FC, off-field and boardroom happenings have overshadowed the conclusion of the 2014 top flight season.
“All 16 chairpersons of KPL clubs are meeting Friday to discuss the matter and come up with a joint resolution about this (tussle with KPL),” Oguda confirmed.
Gor lead the standings on 54 points with Sofapaka (53) and Tusker FC (51 or 48 depending on KPL and FKF) completing the top three who have a chance to lift the crown with two games to go whilst Leopards are in sixth (38) or seventh if Muhoroni are elevated to 40 following FKF’s ruling.
Confusing? For now, the domestic football merry go round goes on and on and on and on.