The Kenyan football scene is not for the faint hearted. It has the capacity to take one to the heavens and hell in a single swoop so, to the diehard fans the anticipation of waiting for commencement of a new season comes with a mixed ratio of anxiety and optimism.
The 15 time reigning champions Gor Mahia have been on the news for good and not so good reasons. Their next door neighbours AFC Leopards’ have also elicited a salad of news that makes 2016 a season to look forward to. I will try to dwell on the good news with a pinch of bad news. As they say, football is played on the pitch, what comes up out of it gives us hints but the real news will come up when the league kicks off.
Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards’ have attracted sponsorships from sports betting companies Sportpesa and Betway. This is good news for Kenyan football, as the two clubs with massive following have endured lean financial times for several seasons now. Once the two clubs can manage to pay players’ salaries, we hope the players can now concentrate on doing what they love and are paid to do.
Money is good but its scarcity or abundance is known to attract more problems than it was meant to solve. So when Gor Mahia negotiates for a Ksh. 300 million worth of sponsorship over five seasons, it can elicit fear and optimism in equal measure. With a good vision and organized management, Gor can take off into greater heights or crash land on the runway if the money gets into their heads. This is a club that managed to win the league last season unbeaten, without a sponsor. They managed to pay a foreign coach a sum Sh 700,000 per month and a few foreign players also took home good packages. I expect Gor to take their prudence into the windfall and do well in the league and African Champions League this season.
On the other hand, I have to break my stand and bring you some bad news from the den. The two betting firms, Sportpesa and Betway both signed sponsorship deals with two different factions of Leopards’ management. This literally means that the Leopard has been grounded by the wrangles in leadership. The good news is despite the girl looking ugly and haggard, the suitors are hovering around her with proposals. This is a good sign all the same.
The 2016 edition of KPL will be a fight between Gor Mahia and Tusker FC, the two sides that look organized. Leopards for now are grouped with Sofapaka, as the two limping cats. Expect a good show from Ulinzi and Bandari but all in all it will be a two horse race going into crunch month of October.