Kenyan Premier League (KPL) fixtures were released yesterday and new boys Nzoia Sugar and Kariobangi Sharks face a baptism of fire in their first matches.
Nzoia will be welcomed back to life in the top flight by defending champions Tusker while Sharks will not only be facing former champions Gor Mahia, but also the Green Army when the league kicks off on March 11.
Other new comers Nakumatt and Zoo Kericho who were excluded in the previous fixtures have been included in the new 16-team league. Left out are Sofapaka and Muhoroni Youth who are waiting for the Sports Tribunal to decide their fate.
To start off the KPL football season, Gor Mahia and Tusker face off in tomorrow’s Super Cup at Afraha Stadium in the traditional season opener. The match will not be live on SuperSport like the previous editions.
KPL Chief Executive Officer Jack Oguda who has been summoned to appear before the tribunal on Monday for failing to release the fixtures as ordered said: “Depending on the outcome of the tribunal’s ruling on Sofapaka and Muhoroni, we will either include or exclude them.”
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Due to unavailability of Nyayo and Kasarani grounds, most matches have not been assigned venues. Only four venues -- Mumias, Moi Stadium. Mbaraki, Afraha and Chemelil -- have been assigned fixtures.
For instance, the Sharks match against Gor Mahia will be played at a venue yet to be identified.
Champions Tusker will be hoping to get off to a good start under their new coach George Nsibe when they face National Super League champions Nzoia United on the opening day of the season next Saturday. The venue of the match is also yet to be decided.
Nakumatt, the other new comers travel to Mombasa on the first day to face Bandari. The retailers have recruited well and have brought to their ranks the likes of Kepha Aswani who has plenty of KPL experience and will be hoping for a positive start.
Zoo Zericho will be at home against Posta Rangers in the other fixture on the opening day. The match has been scheduled for Kericho Green Stadium pending it receiving authorisation to host KPL matches.
Top league action is going to Kericho for the first time in many years, and the news has already created a buzz in the area.
Prior to their promotion this year, Zoo Kericho have always come close to taking part in the top league.