Gor, Harambee Stars and Davis Cup team battle for top honours

Gor Mahia players celebrate after winning the 2018 SportPesa Premier League. /FILE
Gor Mahia players celebrate after winning the 2018 SportPesa Premier League. /FILE

Kenya Premier League title holders Gor Mahia headlines the men’s team of the year nominations ahead of the next week’s 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) in Mombasa County.

The 15th edition gala 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 will be held outside the capital city.

Gor, who defended the league title to win their 17th KPL trophy, will line up against national 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, K’Ogalo retained the KPL title with six matches to spare and reached the Caf Confederation Cup group stage where they missed the quarter finals by a point. Gor, the 2015 men’s team of the year, also defended the regional Super Cup that featured eight teams from Kenya and Tanzania. They beat Simba SC 2-0 in the final to earn a ticket to play Everton in an international friendly match.

Prior to that, they won season curtain raiser KPL Super Cup, edging out nemesis AFC Leopards 1-0 before finishing third in the Cecafa Kagame Cup.

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.

Stars had a fine campaign that saw them shock favourites Ghana 1-0 at Kasarani, held Ethiopia 0-0 away before handing them a 3-0 beating at home.

Stars played eight matches, 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, 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 support 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, based at Eastleigh High School, went ahead to clinch the annual Twenty20 Championships. Also making the final list are the Kenya Deaf Handball Team that participated in 2nd World Deaf Handball championship In Caxias Do sul Brazil last July , finishing 5th overall out of 8, and top 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.