The dust is finally settling in the BetKing Premier League, and the 2020/21 campaign is taking shape, on both ends of the table.
Failed Invincible Tests
Going into Match Day 8, Zoo FC, Kariobangi Sharks and KCB were the only teams yet to taste defeat in the season. However, as fate would have it, they all saw their runs tumble in that round.
A lot of pressure was on KCB’s shoulders after the imperious start they had to the season. Their run of six consecutive wins and shipping in only one goal throughout was ended an AFC Leopards side that was hurting after losses in its last two games. Ingwe won the game 2-1. Although the Bankers are still top of the table and with a game in hand, what remains to be seen is how they react to that first loss.
On the other hand, Kariobangi Sharks were beaten 4-2 by Tusker who also overtook them on the table to perch at second place. Braces from teenage sensation Henry Mejja and Marita Brian ensured the Brewers handed the Sharks a first taste of defeat this season.
In the league’s Monday action, Mathare United drove the final nail on the only other unbeaten run after defeating Zoo FC 2-0 at Kasarani.
The Match Day 8 results, especially as far as unbeaten runs are concerned, mean Gor Mahia remains the only side in recent seasons, to have gone an entire campaign without losing a game.
Nzoia Sugar and Posta Rangers get rare wins in the league
It was also a week of firsts as Nzoia Sugar and Posta Rangers grabbed their very first wins of the season.
Early goals from Leonard Kasembeli and Eric Otieno helped Nzoia defeat a resurgent Sofapaka 2-1 at Sudi Stadium, Bungoma. Nzoia’s win came after a run of two losses and five draws this season, while it was also their first in 25 league matches. It took a new coach – Ibrahim Shikanda – to deliver the first win for the Millers, while on the flipside, this was Ken Odhiambo’s first loss since taking charge at Sofapaka.
Meanwhile, Posta Rangers surmounted a run of six consecutive draws to finally change the tide for a precious first win of the season, against Vihiga United. A second half goal from William Odero in the 70th minute helped the Mailmen collect their first three points in a tightly contested encounter. Posta, who had started developing a reputation for being draw merchants showed the other side of their game to walk away with a full haul of three points.
Where would Sharks and Ingwe be without Kapaito and Rupia?
An analysis of Kariobangi Sharks’ and AFC Leopards’ fortunes has been down to the impressive showing of the two forwards. The league’s two top scorers in Eric Kapaito (11 goals) and Elvis Rupia (eight goals), have literally carried their teams this season.
Both Sharks and Ingwe have won games where the two strikers have been on the scoresheet. Kapaito has however proved his prowess even when Sharks were losing – the case for the loss to Tusker.
So far, Kariobangi Sharks have scored 16 goals, and Kapaito has 11, while Rupia has netted eight of AFC Leopards’ nine goals. Clearly, a recipe for teams that would struggle if these two players go missing.
Tusker getting consistent
In the opening two games of the season, Tusker picked up only one point from a possible six, creating a buzz among Tusker fans about Robert Matano’s fate as head coach of the side. Since then, Tusker have been the most consistent team in the league, winning five times and drawing once in the six games that followed. In between they’ve beaten defending champions Gor Mahia, title hopefuls Sofapaka, managed a win away to Kakamega Homeboyz and ended Kariobangi Sharks’ unbeaten run. All of the teams who would want to stake a claim on the final prize come the end of the season. Typical Matano clap back. The Brewers now lie in second, just a point behind log leaders KCB, having played one extra game.
Match Day 8 witnessed a festival of goals as 31 were shipped by defenses; the most to be scored in a single round this season. A number of players were in red hot form, and account for the high scoring weekend. Moses Mudavadi (Kakamega Homeboyz) Abdallah Hassan (Bandari) Eric Kapaito (Kariobangi Sharks) Henry Mejja (Tusker) Brian Marita (Tusker) and Elvis Rupia (AFC Leopards) all grabbed braces.
Meanwhile, only Mathare United and Posta Rangers managed to keep clean sheets.