Don’t hand Gor Mahia trophy, Tusker coach Matano cautions KPL

Tusker FC Coach Robert Matano during their KPL match against Gor Mahia FC at Kenyatta Stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Tusker coach Robert Matano and his AFC Leopards counterpart Anthony ‘Modo’ Kimani feel it will be a bit premature and unjustifiable to end the Kenyan Premier League at this stage.

The league was suspended last month with less than ten rounds of fixtures remaining due to the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the world.

The league organisers have not given a specific date for a restart of matches with record champions Gor Mahia seven points clear at the top (54 points from 23 matches).

Kakamega Homeboyz are second with 47 points, one ahead of third-placed Tusker and with a game at hand each.

And in the relegation zone, Kisumu AllStars are tied on nine points with Chemelil Sugar.

Whether the league is concluded as it stands or it is abandoned altogether will generate debate.

The government has announced a one-month widespread suspension of public gatherings. It has followed it with a dusk to dawn curfew and the cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa counties for 21 days as a precautionary measure against the virus.

While Football Kenya Federation (FKF) are already thinking of using the current league standings to declare both the champions and teams to be relegated, the league organisers (KPL) have stressed that they will not rush a decision over how this season will finish.

Coach Matano is against the idea of using the current standings to declare Gor Mahia the champions.

Unlike the Belgian Jupiler League where Club Brugge were recently crowned the champions after holding an unassailable 15 points lead with a game to go, the two-times KPL title winner believes there is still plenty to play for in KPL.

“Nobody should be declared the champions yet. Even the FA has not declared Liverpool the English Premier League champions yet they are leading with 25 points. So, FKF and KPL have to wait, maybe until when there is no chance of returning to action,” Matano told Standard Sports.

“But I think we should just postpone the league the way some European nations have done.

“We cannot go the Belgian way because their league had remained with only one round of fixtures and that’s why Club Brugge were crowned the champions.”

“And when push comes to shove, we better go for the play-offs involving either the top four or six teams then the winners will be known. This will give every team an equal chance to play and prove themselves.”

Just like Matano, Kimani believes it will be unfair to declare current leaders K’Ogalo as champions with ten matches yet to be played.

“It will be a bit early to declare the league winners. I know it might have happened in Belgium but there case is quite unique because Club Brugge had an unassailable lead and there was no way the other teams would have been able to breach the gap with one game to go,” said Kimani.

“In our scenario, there are a couple of teams that are still in contention. The current season has not elapsed, so we still have time before the season ends. We just have to wait and see what happens in the next few months and then make an informed decision on how the league should end.”


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