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Players savour crowning moment in KPL awards

SPORTS By Rodgers Eshitemi and Gilbert Wandera | October 25th 2018 | 3 min read
Gor Mahia's Francis Kahata in action. He is among stars snubbed by selectors [Courtesy]

Kenya’s best players will be honoured tonight at the Kenya School of Government in  Nairobi.

The nominations, as usual, were received with mixed feelings but the winners will nonetheless be delighted to pocket a share of the Sh6.5million on offer.

The winners were picked by a selection panel comprising the 18 SportsPesa Premier League (SPL) coaches and team captains.

Gor Mahia, who won the league for the second successive year, were expected to feature in most of the categories, but some of their outstanding players like Francis Kahata and Philemon Otieno did not receive a nomination.

For Kahata, his exclusion was by default as he had not played the required number of matches for nomination which stands at 24.

Nonetheless, many fans still feel he should have been included considering the role he played in helping Gor Mahia win the league and also make it to group stages of the Confederations Cup.

The battle for the Most Valuable Award is likely to be between newcomer Eric Kapaito from Kariobangi Sharks and Cliff Nyakeya of Mathare United. The duo has the most realistic chance of collecting the Sh1million cash award on offer after having an outstanding season.

Kapaito is already assured of the golden boot award after scoring 16 goals and is the second Kariobangi Sharks player to win the award for the second time on the trot. 

Last year’s winner Mike Madoya could also clinch it for the second time in a season that did not have any outstanding player.

Some of the surprise inclusions include Ezekiel Owade (AFC Leopards) for defender of the year and Titus Achesa (Rangers) for goalkeeper of the year. The two had an underwhelming performance with their respective clubs and it was not expected they would make the cut.

AFC Leopards let in 48 goals with Owade at the backline while Achesa’s Rangers shipped in 39 goals as they struggled to stay up.

Controversy also marred the coach of the year category, where Bernard Mwalala has been shortlisted despite joining Bandari in the second half of the league.

Mwalala spent the first half of the season at Nzoia Sugar. He will fight it out with Dylan Kerr (Gor Mahia), Robert Matano (Tusker), Danstun Nyaudo (Ulinzi) and John Baraza (Sofapaka).

Matano has been one of the most impressive coaches this season.

He guided Tusker from 15th position, when he took over, to third spot after a bad start that saw Ugandan coach Sam Ssimbwa fired.

Sofapaka coach John Baraza had a below par performance after failing to finish among the top three despite having one of the most experienced squads in the league.

The club also did not win the SportPesa shield after losing in the final to Kariobangi Sharks 3-2.

Winning the coach’s award will be a good consolation for the former international.

Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr is the favourite in the coach of the year award category after winning the league twice in a row and also helped his side make it to the group stages of the Confederations Cup.

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