NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – On a weekend where the race for the title continued to take shape, what highlighted the eye in the Kenyan Premier League weekend round was the comedy of goalkeeping that left some teams fuming while others merely survived.
A goalkeeper, as the last line of defense is one of the most fundamental parts of a successful team and if yours falters, then you dip yourself into some irreversible mess.
We start off at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi where on Sunday, Western Stima came just short of a memorable comeback, but lost 3-2 to defending champions Gor Mahia.
They were 3-0 down within the first 13 minutes and two of those goals were gifts from shot stopper John Njau.
“I don’t think he will play again. Not just him but many other players who have cost us games. I don’t understand what he was doing especially with the third goal. How do you just pass the ball to the opponent,” Stima boss Salim Babu, fuming with anger said after the match.
The tactician said it was not the first time the keeper’s errors were costing his side and promised to change his squad for the next match.
Over to Machakos on Sunday and there was room for more comedy of errors.
Wazito vs Zoo kericho and both keepers seemed to have been competing on who to make more errors. Ultimately, it was the Zoo man Vincent Misikhu who won the contest.
Misikhu’s positioning for Wazito’s opening goal was woeful as he allowed Dennis Ng’ang’a’s scorcher from 35 yards out to sail all the way to the top left. He might have been forgiven for that, but definitely not for the second goal.
Mungai Kiongera took a pale shot from the edge of the area and even he wasn’t certain it would end in the back of the net. But, Misikhu went down comically and in an attempt to collect the ball, let it roll under his armpits and into the net.
Just before that, his opposite number on the other end Kevin Omondi, heralded as one of the best keepers in the top tier during his stint in Sony had also gifted a goal to the men from Kericho.
His awareness off a a Kepha Ondati cross was completely off as he ignored the ball thinking it was going in, without noticing an onrushing Collins Neto who slid in at the back post for an easy goal.
So much for entertainment.
And to the business end of the league, the race for the title seems to be headed down probably to the last few games of the campaign. Gor retained their lead, though they once again had to do it with minimal margins.
“I am not really worried about that because as a team, you don’t always have to be on top. There have to be days you are struggling but as long as you are winning that’s all that matters,” head coach Steve Polack said after his side’s victory against Stima.
Gor’s closest challengers now seem to be Kakamega Homeboyz. They also won with a 3-2 margin, but theirs had a tad of fighting spirit that Gor’s victory didn’t have.
They were losing 2-0 against Nzoia Sugar with 83 minutes gone, but they managed a comeback of ages, scoring three in the final seven minutes including a 95th minute winner to bag all the three points.
They are now just four points off the league leaders and will be keenly following this weekend’s derby to hope their ‘big brothers’ AFC Leopards halt Gor’s run for them to squeeze in the gap.
Meanwhile, Tusker dropped two points from a winning position for a second consecutive weekend, drawing 2-2 with relegation fighting Kisumu All Stars.
Against Wazito, Tusker were leading 1-0 before conceding a 90th minute equalizer. Against All Stars, they were winning 2-1 until the third minute of added time when they conceded to draw the tie.
The result effectively leaves them eight points behind leaders Gor and though they have a single match in hand, it now looks a tall order heading into the home stretch in the league hunt.
KCB also saw their hopes fade as they lost 2-1 to Bandari, dropping to fifth with 41 points, with Ulinzi Stars scaling to fourth after a 1-0 win over Sofapaka.
Meanwhile, the race to avoid relegation also gathered pace. With Sony Sugar already handed a technical knockout after dishing out three walkovers, one more team will join them in the automatic bin while a third will be decided by play-off.
The race for the chop now looks to have narrowed down between Zoo Kericho, Nzoia Sugar, Kisumu All Stars and Chemelil, who all save for Kisumu lost over the weekend.
Chemelil sit at the basement with nine points having lost to AFC Leopards while All Stars are a spot above them also with nine points but with a better goal difference.
Zoo and Nzoia are 14th and 15th with 15 and 12 points respectively.
KPL weekend results:
Saturday: Gor Mahia 3-2 Western Stima (Kasarani), Sofapaka 0-1 Ulinzi Stars (Machakos), Kisumu All Stars 2-2 Tusker FC (Machakos), Chemelil Sugar 0-1 AFC Leopards (Kericho).
Sunday: Wazito 4-1 Zoo Kericho, KCB 1-2 Bandari (Machakos), Homeboyz 3-2 Nzoia Sugar (Kakamega), Posta Rangers 1-1 Mathare United (Narok).