NAIROBI, December 14- SportPesa Premier League champions and Cecafa Club Championships runners-up Gor Mahia are among five sides in contention for the Male Team of the Year Award at the 2015 Soya Awards.
Organisers released the nominee shortlists for the teams of the year with Gor who swept all before them to complete the league season unbeaten in the hunt for more close-season honours after their players starred the Footballer of the Year Awards last week.
Frank Nutall’s men broke a number of domestic records en route to defending their domestic crown for a third successive season including a record tally in the Kenyan Premier League era of 78 points, largest goal difference of +48 with keeper Boniface Oluoch keeping 19 shut-outs.
They also made the final of the Cecafa regional showpiece for the first time since 1985; losing 2-0 to Tanzanian well-heeled side, Azam FC in a tournament they stunned local titleholders, Yanga FC 2-1 in the opening game of the showpiece.
The first Kenyan side in the regional cup final since Tusker FC in 2008 enjoyed a rousing campaign against a crippling cash-crunch occasioned by going without a title sponsor for a second season in a row.
K’Ogalo will battle it out with Harambee Stars with two rugby outfits, national 15s Simbas and Kenya Cup champions, Kenya Commercial Bank as well as the national hockey team rounding the shortlist.
The corresponding Female Team of the Year decoration is dominated by volleyball after the sport enjoyed a glittering year on local and overseas courts.
National women’s team Malkia Strikers and the girls who represented the country at the Congo Brazzaville All Africa Games face internal competition from domestic league champions, Kenya Pipeline.
However, 2014 winners African and local champions; Telkom Orange feature strongly in the nomination line-up that is closed by Harambee Starlets who put on a brave fight in the race for Rio 2016 Olympics qualification before giants South Africa narrowly eliminated them.
Under South African tactician Jerome Paarwaters, Kenya 15s toppled favoured European sides Portugal (41-15/May 30) and Spain (36-27/June 18) to finish the year with their highest ever World Rugby ranking of 27 despite the fact they failed to reclaim their continental crown after being blanked 46-13 by Namibia.
The KCB 15s team followed the footsteps of their Sevens team that won Team of the Year award last season. After an eight year wait and loses in three of the finals in the past five years, KCB finally reclaimed the Kenya Cup after seeing off the seasons surprise package Kabras Sugar 27-3 on March 14.
KCB, handled by Curtis Olago are still fresh from defending their 2015 Impala Floodlight title, beating hosts Impala 26-16 on October 31.
Harambee Stars beat Cape Verde, a side ranked fourth in Africa and 32nd in the world in Nairobi, 1-0 despite playing without being paid, bathing in swimming pool water and without proper preparations.
Stars then bowed out of the 2018 World Cup qualification, losing 0-2 to Cape Verde having been forced by inept management to travel for over 22 hours in a back-breaking flight and arriving in Cape Verde headed straight for kick-off.
Stars galvanized a nation with their indefatigable spirit before bowing out of the Russia World Cup 2-1 on aggregate.
The national men’s hockey teams settled for bronze after beating Ghana 4-3 in the play-off in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Africa qualifying tournament in South Africa.
The Malkia Strikers spiked off their intentions in Nairobi where they won their ninth title in the Africa Cup Nations championship, defeating Algeria 3-0 which also saw them to book their place in the FIVB World Cup in Japan.
They went ahead to win their first international title in Group III of the FIVB World Grand Prix. They beat Peru 3-1 in the final after overcoming Australia 3-1 in the semis having won 4 other matches out of the three legs that took place in Mexico, Algeria and Australia.
The team for African Games Volleyball proceeded to Congo Brazzaville was ideally the second side after Malkia Strikers who went for the World Cup.
The national women volleyball team showed consistency in the games to win the gold medal in a thrilling final against giants Cameroon who they beat 3-1 after coming from a set down.
They overcame another giant Egypt in an epic marathon in the semis by 3-2. It was Kenya’s first gold medal side the 1999 Africa Games.
Kenya Pipeline reached the final of the Africa Club Championships, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt 3-1 in April. The team retained the National League title, beating Kenya Prisons 3-1 in the final in November.
Telkom Orange retained the Africa Club Championships and will be defending it in Zambia. They are also on the verge of winning their 17th consecutive national league title.