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How Tusker ended K’Ogalo’s five-year league dominance

FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | August 24th 2021
Tusker FC Jimmy Mbugua is carried by teammates as they celebrate their goal against Bidco United during their FKF Premier League match at Utalii Sports Ground in Nairobi on Sunday, August 22, 2021 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Tusker were on Sunday crowned the 2021 FKF Premier League champions, bringing to a halt Gor Mahia’s five-year dominance in the competition. 

The brewers finished top with 65 points with their closest rivals KCB coming second with 62 points as Bandari and AFC Leopards closed the top four.

In the process, Tusker under the tutelage of veteran coach Robert Matano, dethroned record Kenyan champion Gor from the top seat, which the Green Army has been occupying since 2017.

In the last decade, the title has been shared between Tusker and Gor Mahia with the brewers winning it four times (2011, 20212, 2016 and 2021) compared with Gor’s seven.

With Gor failing to keep up with the pace, Tusker rose to the occasion winning 19 matches, drew eight and lost only five in the 32 rounds of matches played.

In spite the glamour and glory, Tusker chairman Dan Aduda said the triumph is behind them as they shift their focus to the Caf Champions League.

“I’m really proud of our players and the technical bench for a job well-done. The FKF Premier League title triumph is now behind us, the big task started after the coronation on Sunday. Our focus now is to perform better in the Champions League,” said Aduda.

Tusker are set to play Djiboutian Arta Solar that boasts the services of former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song in the preliminary round of the Champions League next month on September 10.

According to Aduda, they will beef up the team ahead of their Champions League return.

Tusker FC celebrates with their trophy after beating BIDCO United 2-1 to clinch FKF Premier League Champion at Utalii Sports Ground in Nairobi on Sunday, August 22, 2021 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

“Of course, we will be beefing up the squad. We are finalising on some of the transfers and we will announce them soon,” added the chairman.

The first leg of Champions League preliminary round will be played between September 10-12 with the second leg planned for September 17-19.

Meanwhile, it was not only Tusker’s season to savour but also Mathare United’s. The Slum Boys, under the leadership of new coach Frank Ouna, survived relegation after staying bottom for the better part of the season.

When Ouna took charge on May 18, Mathare had won only one match and were staring at the exit door with seven points from 14 rounds of matches under ex-coach Salim Ali.

However, Ouna’s magic woke up the 2008 champions who went on to win seven matches and survive the drop after finishing 15th with 30 points.

The 2021 campaign had its ups and downs. One of the positives saw Kariobangi Sharks striker Eric Kapaito bag the golden boot with 24 goals, improving on his 2016 tally of 16.

AFC Leopards Elvis Rupia followed with 17 goals while Sofapaka’s Lawrence Juma finished third on 16 goals.

Ulinzi Stars custodian James Saruni kept 12 clean sheets followed by KCB’s Joseph Okoth, who had 11.

On the flip side, the much hyped Sh1.2 billion FKF Premier League sponsorship was terminated by Betking Kenya leaving the already struggling league in dire situation.

BetKing and FKF signed a five-season deal which will see top-tier clubs get at least Sh8 million every season as well as the KPL changing its name.

Under the partnership, each of the 32 Division One clubs from Zone A and Zone B were to receive at least Sh500,000 annual grant from the federation.

Meanwhile, 2020 league winners Gor Mahia said they are yet to receive their Sh2.6 prize money for winning the league last season.

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