NAIROBI, March 20- It’s lights, camera and action this weekend when the Kenyan Premier League returns to television screens after a three-week blackout imposed by a High Court injunction was lifted this week.
Following the rousing reception of the returning KPL when champions Gor Mahia beat Bandari 2-1 at City Stadium on Thursday, the rich appetite of local top flight football fans will be whet further on Saturday and Sunday when four matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport, channel SS9E (channel 219) in back-to-back double headers.
Outside broadcast vans and crew, also hugely relieved after the injunction against KPL filed by Football Kenya Federation was lifted when their case against the league organising company was found defective; rigged up Nairobi’s City Stadium on Friday in readiness to turn cameras back on for Saturday’s double dose of action featuring KCB v Nakuru All Stars at 2pm before Nairobi City Stars put AFC Leopards’ resolve to test staring at 4:15pm.
It will be All Stars’ first match of the season after they found a route back to the top flight their relegation last season against the Bankers who kicked-off their 2015 campaign with a 2-0 hiding at Western Stima before the stop orders on the weekend of February 21 and 22.
The bankers welcome back former Gor Mahia forward Paul Kiongera, who has recovered fully from a knee surgery, but will be without captain Mark Odhiambo out with a troublesome left knee.
The Nakuru-based team is however expected to have slight challenges especially after most of their first team members decamped to other Premier League clubs upon their relegation last season.
KCB assistant coach Elvis Ayany, who has assumed the leadership of the technical bench in place of the recuperating coach Rishadi Shedu, said that he had faith in the team to deliver results.
“A lot has been said in the media about the team but now let us wait to see how the boys play in the 90 minutes,” he said.
-Leopards on the prowl-
Saturday’s key clash will see Leopards, under former Gor Mahia head coach, Zradvko Logarusic hunt for their first KPL win of the season after being forced to a barren draw by bogey team Chemelil in their opener with nowhere to hide under the glare of cameras.
Flamboyant AFC Leopards coach Zdravko Logarusic read the riot act to the players a couple of weeks back and if he has his way, City Stars will face a hungry and dangerous Leopards.
Crew will shift equipment across town to pitch tent at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium for the second double header on Sunday featuring title contenders Tusker and champions Gor Mahia underline their credentials against plucky sides Ushuru FC and Chemelil in that order.
The Brewers will be out to bottle the tax collectors in the first clash at 2pm (+3GMT) hoping to put out a statement on their title aspirations having stuttered to a shaky draw at Thika United.
The taxmen, aiming for a top quarter finish and only in their second season at the top, have experienced KPL stalwarts Eric Masika, Samuel Odhiambo, Robert Omunuk and veteran pass-master Charles Okwemba and could concoct a strong brew against Tusker.
“We have trained hard since our first match and I think the team has now gelled well enough to deliver a better result,” Ushuru coach Ken Kenyatta stated.
At 4:15pm, Gor will take on Chemelil hoping to dilute the cane cutters for their third win on the bounce fresh from anchoring port side Bandari 2-1 at City in a match that brought out KPL fans out in force despite being a working day.
K’Ogalo who sent Mathare United to the cleaners in their opening encounter will go to the match in confident mood having beaten Chemelil home and away last season.
“We have a very tight schedule but I don’t think that will affect us because I can see that the motivation and fitness levels within the squad are really high and we want to continue winning,” head coach, Frank Nutall said.
The televised games are part of a whole eight-match fixture programme as KPL returns to the pitches with a bang with the title chasing Sofapaka hosting wounded Bandari among the interesting match-ups on Sunday.
14:00 KCB vs Nakuru All Stars (City Stadium/TV)
15:00 Thika United vs Mathare United (Thika Stadium)
15:00 Sony Sugar vs Muhoroni Youth (Awendo Green Stadium)
16:15 City Stars vs AFC Leopards (City Stadium/TV)
14:00 Tusker vs Ushuru (Nyayo Stadium/TV)
15:00 Ulinzi Stars vs Western Stima (Afraha Stadium)
15:00 Sofapaka vs Bandari FC (Machakos Stadium)
16:15 Gor Mahia vs Chemelil Sugar (Nyayo Stadium/TV)