THE TOUCHLINE COLUMN

Congratulations Tusker, take heart Homeboyz

Kakamega Homeboyz alleged a well-calculated ploy hatched by opponents to scuttle their plans for a maiden Kenyan Premier League title.

In Summary

•It was a surreal ending for Tusker who experienced a torrid start to the season after registering a string of unconvincing performances in the initial phases of the competition.

•Tusker and Homeboyz tied on points at the apex of the log, and the tournament organizers had to rely on goal difference to draw a distinct line on the last day of the competition.

Tusker players celebrate after retaining their KPL title on Sunday.
Tusker players celebrate after retaining their KPL title on Sunday.
Image: HANDOUT

The curtains ultimately fell on the 2021/2022 Kenyan Premier League season on Sunday with Tusker proudly strutting to the winner's podium for the second consecutive year.

It was a surreal ending for Tusker who experienced a torrid start to the season after registering a string of unconvincing performances in the initial phases of the competition.

The brewers eventually collected themselves and managed to amass 63 points from 32 matches.

Basking in the momentous occasion came at a cost though. The coach Robert Matano-tutored side had to keep their shoulders to the wheel and battle to their last breath given the cutthroat nature of the competition that was driven to the wire.

Tusker and Homeboyz tied on points at the apex of the log, and the tournament organizers had to rely on goal difference to draw a distinct line on the last day of the competition.

As Tusker made merry and popped the champagne bottle at Ruaraka Complex in Nairobi after garnishing their cabinet with a 13th top-flight silverware, Homeboyz were in a sombre mood several miles away at Mumias Sports Complex despite earning a walkover.

The Kakamega-based lads alleged a well-calculated ploy hatched by opponents to scuttle their plans for a maiden Kenyan Premier League title.

Two of their rivals, Talanta and Kariobangi Sharks, failed to appear for crunch ties that would have made all the difference. The decision by the Sharks to give Sunday's encounter a wide berth was the last straw that broke the camel's back.

The development limited the potential of Homeboyz to beef up their goal tally, effectively handing Tusker the title on a silver platter. Homeboyz have since appealed to the government to launch investigations into suspected match fixing that shattered their dreams.

Apart from the engrossing Tusker-Homeboyz telenovela, other outstanding incidents also highlighted and marred the season. Several teams raised concerns about pathetic calls made on the pitch by officials. 

Indeed, local football enthusiasts made incessant pleas to the government-appointed FKF Transition Committee to address the issue, saying financially-deprived match officials risked falling into the temptation of accepting bribes to influence the outcome of matches.

But nothing disturbed as much as the outbreak of crowd trouble in league encounters. Record champions Gor Mahia had to be barred from using Moi Stadium, Kasarani for their home matches after rowdy fans disrupted their fixture against Vihiga Bullets at the facility, forcing match officials to scamper for safety after being roughed up.

Then Mathare United's 24-year existence in the top tier came to an abrupt halt when the Transition Committee reached a decision to relegate them after they skipped three consecutive matches against Ulinzi, Sofapaka and Bandari owing to deep-seated financial constraints.

Only corporate and government-sponsored clubs survived the gigantic financial monster that jolted the operations of their community counterparts following the withdrawal of league sponsors in the preceding season.

The contentious move by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to expel the embattled Nick Mwendwa-led Football Kenya Federation in November last year also highlighted the ugly moments that defined Kenya's football.

Amina justified her decision, saying it was a step towards cleaning up the mess in Kenyan football. Hopefully, her magic wand will exorcise the ghosts that have haunted Kandanda House once and for all.