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TUSKER EXPOSE KPL: Kenyan champions’ exit from Africa raises questions of quality in local league

FOOTBALL By Gilbert Wandera | February 21st 2017
Tusker FC's From Left- Defenders Vincent Omumbo and Samuel Olwande, Midfielders Victor Ndinya, Abdul Hassan, Evans Ochieng' and Sydney Ochieng', Goalkeeper Byrne Omondi, Defender Marlon Tangawizi and Midfielder Moses Ndawula during unveiling of new signings for 2017 domestic and international assignments at Ruaraka Sports Club on Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

Tusker’s failure to progress to the first round of the CAF Champions League after falling to minnows AS Port Louis of Mauritius has brought the quality of the Kenyan Premier League into sharp focus.

It was another disappointing performance by a Kenyan club and raises questions about competitiveness of the national league.

For a long time, the KPL has been touted as among the best on the continent, but results at the continental level say otherwise.

Just what is the problem?

According to former Tusker coach Robert Matano, the country’s calendar puts teams at a disadvantage at the continental level.

“We are always competing with teams that are active while we are just coming out of the pre-season and so it puts us at a disadvantage. It is therefore not a surprise that we get the results we get,” he said.

The coach has urged Football Kenya Federation to consider changing the calendar from this season.

“Let FKF take advantage of the league stand-off to introduce a new calendar. Teams should take part in tournaments between now and August and then we can start the league then and be at par with our opponents,” he suggested.

Matano said it is unfair to blame coaches and players when they are not prepared well.

“When a coach does not get quality build-up matches it is difficult for them to get good results and they should not be blamed for that.”

Matano’s sentiments were supported by Ricky Solomon who chairs the Kenya Football Coaches Association.

“We have been saying this every year that unless the local calendar changes there will be no improvement at the continental level. There is a great opportunity to do this.”

Former Tusker player Harold Ndege, however, insisted that the club should have done better if they had been serious about their preparations.

“The team did not just prepare well. They did not have any serious friendly matches and even the quality of players they signed could not help them.

“It does not make sense that they let an experienced player like Osborne Monday to go and yet not sign another player like him. Furthermore, the team needs to have a bigger budget for continental assignments in future,” he said.

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