At a time like this last year, Nzoia Sugar had already been crowned the National Super League (NSL) champions and focus was just on who else gets to join them in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and who drops to the third tier league. On the contrary, the 2017 season is set to go down the wire. In fact, the winner might just be known when league leaders Ushuru who are at the helm with 72 points face second placed Vihiga United in the sides' last match, given all factors remain constant and both teams win their next two matches.
A fortnight ago, the Taxmen looked like they were in control after winning 13 matches in a row but Nairobi City Stars clearly had other ideas. A fan watching from the periphery would have easily written off City stars, after Andrew Murunga powered in an early free-kick from the edge of the area. The game of two halves saw the favorites fall with Ezekiel Odera and Oscar Jomba scoring a goal apiece, to derail Ushuru’s quest for promotion.
Hot and cold Vihiga
That is just an example of how when one team feels they are home and dry, another unexpectedly shows up with the mother of all upsets. What, for instance can be said of when Vihiga United had at one point opened a 10-point lead only to lose to Kibera Black Stars and promotion hopefuls KCB respectively. This was around the time when Vihiga was red-hot and their superb form came to the fore when they ousted 2016 GOtv Shield winners Tusker FC in the quarter final of domestic cup.
NSL sides are unforgiving and ruthless and need no second invitation to burst your bubble when you least expect it.
It will be remembered that Vihiga head coach fielded fringe players in the GOtv semifinal tie against AFC Leopards, which clearly showed his preferences; that the promotion race took precedence and maintaining their top dog status was a priority. He lost the Shield semi and went on to settle for fourth place and after the slump in the league, his team is getting back and remains in the chase for promotion, placed second with 71 points, same as third placed Wazito but clinging on a superior goal difference.
Wazito superb run
Wazito FC on the other hand have been one of the silent pythons that strike when everyone is not looking. They have won their last eight matches and haven't showed signs of slowing down anytime soon, with the 5-0 win over relegation threatened Agro Chemicals in their most recent outing at Camp Toyoyo.
KCB dropped to fourth on 70 points after going down to Isibania at Awendo, much to the delight of Wazito. Three tough tests from Nakuru Allstars, Kibera Black Stars and Kenya Police are in the pipeline for the Frank Ouna coached Wazito side, and bagging nine points would hand them a decent chance of promotion.
Meanwhile, Nairobi Stima- one of the toughest sides in the league is set to play KCB in their next tie, but they are assured of a top five finish on the log with 64 points following their 2-1 win over Kenya Police, despite trailing the Bankers by six points. Should KCB falter at the hands of the Powermen, pressure will be alleviated on the top three teams.
On the bottom end of the table, MOSCA are on the verge of relegation and it will take a miracle to have them cover ground with four matches left given they are 12 points behind Agro and Administration Police. The two have 27 points each and are still battling for survival with St. Joseph six points clear of the drop zone.
This, without doubt could be one of the tightest of races in the Kenyan second tier.