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KPL still open to concluding 19/20 season

Sofapaka forward Brian Kayanja vies for the ball with AFC Leopards’ defender Isaac Kipyegon during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Mumias Sports Complex on February 22, 2020. PHOTO/Sofapaka FC/Twitter

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28 – The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is still open to concluding the 2019/20 season even after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders last Saturday extending the cessation of movement in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale as well as the national curfew by a further 21 days.

The order means that for the next 21 days, until at least May 16, movement in and out of the four named counties as well as the 5am to 7pm curfew will remain in place, making it difficult to resume normal footballing activities.

“The governing council was set to meet after the initial 21 days was over to chat the way forward, but now we will have to respect the new government directive and play the waiting game. We are still open to concluding the season and we will explore all available options,” KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda told Capital Sport.

Already, there have been calls to call off the season if football cannot resumed by early June, with a suggestion mooted to retain the league standings as they were as at mid-season, something that will make Gor Mahia retain the crown.

Last week, Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa said the option of calling off the season is still viable on force majeure.

“According to the football rules in the country, we can call off the season either by using the league standings as at mid-season or if we have played more than 75pc of the games,” Mwendwa said while speaking to NTV Sasa.

Gor Mahia fans cheer on their team during a past match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Most of the teams had already played 23 rounds of matches out of a protracted 34, which means that 67.6pc of matches have been played. As thus, the league standings as at mid-season will be used to declare champions and teams to be relegated.

Posta Rangers head coach Sammy Omollo is also one of the proponents to end the season if it cannot go on by June, but a huge section of the tacticians are of the opinion that the season should conclude.

Initially, the season was to end in the third week of May.

If the league managers decide to resume the season in June, then teams should be ready to play a condensed calendar with up to two matches a week in order to conclude the season in minimum five weeks.

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Already, FIFA has suggested that up to five substitutions might be allowed in each game post-coronavirus to deal with the issue of fitness, now that teams have not been training well.

Bayern Munich players (from left) Thomas Mueller, Leon Dajaku, Niklas Suele and Jann-Fiete Arp in training to prepare for the Bundesliga’s return

Already, teams in Sweden and Germany have resumed full training and are on the third week. Spain and English teams are set to open their training grounds this week for individual training in view of resuming full training next week.

Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in Europe is planning for clubs to re-open their facilities in the next two weeks.

In Kenya, the government ordered a closure of all public sports facilities, but with the government looking at a declining curve in the number of infections, the rules might be relaxed after the new wave of lockdown directives.

The Ministry of Health on Monday announced that restaurants will be re-opened for specified periods, with strict health and social distancing guidelines enforced.

This gives hope to the football world that in the next month, activities might be allowed with the government also eying mass testing of the populace.

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