The 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season served everything that came with football. From tears to joy and heartbreaks, this season proved to be one of the most dramatic in recent years.
While Gor Mahia ran with the title with four games to spare, the relegation battle went to the wire with Western Stima and Muhoroni Youth finally ending their association with the top flight.
The political season and court cases caused a lot of stoppages in between but here we look at players who made a difference for their respective teams in the season using the 4-3-3 system.
Patrick Matasi (Posta Rangers)
While Rangers' season may have ended in disappointing fashion after starting the campaign on a high gear, there were a lot of positives to note, their defence being one of their strongest points this campaign.
Being a regular between the posts, Matasi stands a chance of bagging this season’s golden glove for the second successive time. His team conceded 22 goals the entire season, a season’s best that is only marched by eventual champions Gor Mahia.
Right Back: Karim Nizigiyamana (Gor Mahia)
He might have ended the season in crutches but Burundian Karim Nizigiyimana was ever present in a Gor Mahia defense that, just like Rangers, shipped in 22 goals. His urge to join attack and his exquisite crossing separates him from a lot of defenders and his experience in the KPL came in handy in games where Gor Mahia swept away teams with ease.
Central Defence: Charles Momanyi (Kakamega Homeboyz)
A surprise inclusion to many who have never watched a Homeboyz game. For those who have been keen, Momanyi deserves a place in the team of the season.
The defence that he has been part of conceded 23 goals the entire season with a lot of goals being shipped away from home, a weakness that Mike Mururi will have to address come next season.
Momanyi's calmness in defence has handed him a place in the Harambee Stars squad preparing for CECEFA duty and he has been billed to cement a place in the national team in the future.
Central Defence: Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia)
Dubbed Mr Present by the Gor Mahia faithfuls, Musa once against guided his team to the title; the fourth in the last five years. His partnership with Harun Shakava has gotten better with time and has been one of the most dependable players in the team. Coaches have come and gone at Gor Mahia but none has been able to replace Musa at the heart of the team’s defence.
Left Back: Dennis Sikhayi (AFC Leopards)
In a rather a dull season that had nothing to smile about in the league, young defender Dennis Sikhayi surpassed so many people’s expectations. He was a standout performer in every game; his only sin being in the midst of players who were not just doing to enough to see off games. He thrived in stopping opposition runs on the left wing and in so many occasions was not afraid to join his team’s attack when an opportunity to do so presented itself.
Right Midfield: Lawrence Juma (Nzoia Sugar FC)
According to the KPL end of season statistics, Juma’s ability to pick a team mate infront of the opposition goal was second to none; the KPL debutant chipping in with nine assists in a campaign that saw his side finish eighth on the log. Apart from assists, Juma scored eight goals from a midfield position. Juma’s tally points out to a fact that he contributed to 17 his teams’ 41 goals; his goal contribution tally only bettered by Gor Mahia’s Meddie Kagere (14 goals, 4 assists, Masoud Juma, 14 goals, 5 assists and Umaru Kasumba 12 goals, 6 assists).
Central Midfield: Sven Yidah (Kariobangi Sharks)
One of the very reasons why Kariobangi Sharks finished third on the league was the undeniable fact that Yidah was at his very best from the first game to the last.
Roped from Ligi Ndogo while the team played in the NSL, his physique in the central midfield role is not everyone’s cup of tea until he starts his duty. His combination with Patilah Omoto in midfield gave Sharks the much needed balance going forward. The interceptions exhibited by Yidah could be compared to very few players in the league.
Central Midfield: Ernest Wendo (Gor Mahia)
The effect of not having Wendo in the team on few occasions was clear for all to see. After picking an injury mid-season in their game against Nakumatt, the team shape was shaken and Godfrey Walusimbi had to be redeployed in the system to fill the gap which teams were trying to exploit. A no nonsense tackler going by his suspension towards the end of the season due to accumulation of cards, the combative Wendo is one reason why other midfielders like Kenneth Muguna found it easy in the midfield. His work rate too cannot be underrated and is somehow assured of his place in the Stars starting CECAFA team.
Striker: Stephen Waruru (Ulinzi Stars)
His stagnation towards the end of the season denied him the chance to pick the top scorer's gong but his contribution in the Ulinzi Stars team more so in the earlier stages cannot be wished away.
Having recorded only one assist to his team the entire season and with news that he will be leaving the soldiers camp, it might be said he was unsettled by some issues heading into the league homestretch but any team that will be acquiring his services will be lucky to have his prowess more so in cutting from the left wing.
His devastating speed is an additional advantage to his team mates and a nightmare to opposition defenders.
Striker: Meddie Kagere (Gor Mahia)
Apart from banging 14 goals in the season, Kagere chipped in with four assists to his name. After playing as a second striker almost the entire season with Jacques Tuyisenge as the main man, his goal tally should be something that gives joy and headache to head coach Dylan kerr who is said to have acquired the services of Ivorian Ephrem Guikan; the fielding next season in attack should be interesting.
His patience and ability to hold the ball to get the others into play depicts a player who was very willing to see other of his team mates prosper.
Striker: Masoud Juma (Kariobangi Sharks)
Whether you like him or not, you have to give it to Masoud Juma. The striker was castigated by a section of fans due to a poor showing in the national team at a time that he had only banged three league goals, but he bounced back to pick the golden boot with 17 goals.
His consistency and working under so much pressure after being put in focus must be admired by strikers who would want to progress. One wonders how many goals he could have scored were it not for the two failed trials he attended in Sweden with AIK Fotball and South Africa with Bidvest Wits.
Apart from the goals, he had five assists; the second most of all the players who scored eleven goals and above.
Special Mention to players who had an impact; John Oyemba (Kariobangi Sharks), Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Wellington Ochieng (Gor Mahia), Willis Ouma (Sofapaka FC), Joakins Atudo (Posta Rangers), Duncan Otieno (AFC Leopards), Roy Okal (Mathare United), Jerry Santos (Posta Rangers), Hashim Sempala (Tusker FC), Kenneth Muguna (Gor Mahia), Daniel Waweru (Ulinzi Stars), Said Tsuma (Thika United), Nicholas Kipkurui (Zoo Kericho), Humphrey Mieno (Tusker FC), Umaru Kasumba (Sofapaka FC), Vincent Oburu (AFC Leopards), Kepha Aswani (Nakumatt), George Odhiambo (Gor Mahia), Yemi Mwana (Sony Sugar FC), Hassan Kiyoyo (Muhoroni Youth), Abdalla Hamisi (Sony Sugar), Chris Oduor (Mathare United)