NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 3 – Record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia leads the nominations for the men’s team of the year for the 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) that will be marking its 15th edition in Mombasa County on January 11.
Gor, who defended the top flight league title to win their 17th trophy, will battle it out with the national men’s football team Harambee Stars, Davis Cup Tennis team, KANBIS Cricket Sports Club and the Kenya Deaf Handball team in the men’s category.
To make the shortlist of top five, K’Ogalo retained the KPL title with six matches to spare as well as going ahead to make history by reaching the CAF Confederation Cup group stage where they were a point away to qualifying to the quarter finals.
They finished third in the group behind Algeria’s USM Alger, Rwanda’s Rayon Sport and Tanzanian side Yanga.
Gor, the 2015 men’s team of the year, also defended the regional Super Cup that featured eight teams from Kenya and Tanzania, beating Simba SC 2-0 in the final to earn a ticket to play Everton in an international friendly match.
They had kicked-off the year with winning the season curtain raiser KPL Super Cup, edging out eternal rivals AFC Leopards 1-0. At the CECAFA Kagame Cup, Gor finished third.
Harambee Stars on the other hand highlighted their achievements of the year by breaking a 15-year jinx to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Stars had a fine campaign that saw them shock Ghana 1-0 at Kasarani, holding Ethiopia 0-0 away before handing them a 3-0 beating at home.
Stars played eight matches in 2018, winning five, drawing one and losing two.
Apart from AFCON Qualifiers, they won 2-1 against New Zealand, 4-1 against Chinese Taipei, Malawi 1-0 in friendly matches while losing 3-0 and 2-0 to India.
The Davis Cup team had a successful year as well after surprising regional bigwigs to qualify for Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2019 following their Group III tournament victory in Nairobi.
Kenya broke the jinx to end their exile from Group II with top class performance taking advantage of their home supporters to force their way to the top.
Team Kenya beat top seed Benin 2-1 after Sheil Kotecha secured a 6-4, 6-4 win over Delmas N’tcha but saw Benin’s Alexis Klegou defeat Kenya’s Ismael Changawa 7-6, 6-4.
The match had to be settled in the doubles in which Changawa teamed up with Ibrahim Kibet to overcome Felix Hounkpevi and Klegou 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. It was first time Kenya was hosting the Davis Cup since 2002.
The KANBIS Sports team will be out to emulate the Kenya U19 Cricket team who won 2017 men’s team after having a fine season. They won the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association Super Division 50 over Championships unbeaten to make it their 16th title in the domestic competition.
The team that is based at Eastleigh High School in Nairobi, also went ahead to clinch the annual Twenty20 championships.
Making the final list is the Kenya Deaf Handball Team that participated in 2nd World Deaf Handball championship In Caxias Do sul Brazil in July where they finished 5th overall out of 8, and tops in Africa.
They beat Ghana 10-0 but lost 31-15 and 24-14 to Turkey and Brazil respectively to finish 3rd in their pool as the top two advanced to the semifinals. Kenya dropped to the classification matches where they beat Cameroon and Ecuador (24-20, 32-6) to finish 5th.
The SOYA gala which has been co-sponsored by Mombasa County, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Communication Authority (CA), Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Power, LapFund, New KCC, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), GOTv and Protel Studios will be held at Fort Jesus, the first time the gala night event to be held outside the capital city.