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Coaches divided on future of Kenyan Premier League

By Shafic Kiyaga
Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has scoffed at proposals to call off the league | Courtesy photo

On Tuesday last week, the Kenyan Premier League secretariat announced an indefinite suspension of the league as the coronavirus continued to affect more people in Kenya.

With the future around the situation looking elliptic with every passing day, the big question is now posed on what happens should the situation drag on beyond the initially scheduled date for the league to climax.  

The current KPL season was initially scheduled to climax on May 24, but that now looks to be a distant possibility after Kenya’s cases rose up to 234, with 11 fatalities, with the government imposing a lockdown.

The biggest debate has been driven after Kakamega Homeboys chairman Cleophas Shimanyula’s claim that the league secretariat should allow his side who lie second on the log, play in a playoff against leaders Gor Mahia to determine the winner.

Now a couple of coaches have gone up in arms against the idea, with some calling for the league to be completely nulled, while Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack scoffed at the ridiculous statement from his rivals.

“It is sad that people who should be holding concrete debates on this matter backed by law, have now resorted to short cuts and witch hunt,” Polack told Daily Nation.

“How can Kakamega Homeboys chairman propose that his team play Gor Mahia to determine the winner of the league?”

“As things are now, using playoffs to determine the winner of the league and relegation teams won’t be fair. We should be speaking of options that are within the law,” he added.

With 10 games left to play until the end of the season, the Britton argues he would love to see the league concluded fairly to determine a credible champion, but argued that Gor Mahia should be declared champions if the situation persists.

“We are anticipating that the league will resume soon and that is why I am keen on training sessions on individual level among my players. We know it would be a busy intensified fixture after we shall have overcome this disaster,”

“The league is 75 percent complete and I support the assertion that we should be declared winners if this situation persists. This is what the law says and as a coach I believe it is the best way,” he stated.

Additionally, Kisumu All Stars’ coach George Aroka whose team lie on the cusps of relegation in 16th, is against the idea of the remaining league games to be called off but would rather have the league nullified.

“You can’t say All Stars will be relegated yet I have 10 games to play, six being at home. I’m sure of wining at least four home games and survive the axe,” said Aroka.

“We have all spent resources this season and the cancellation of the league will be the best idea rather than using rules that are unfair to other teams,” he added.

However, Mathare United coach Salim Ali whose side lies eighth with 33 points, strongly disagrees with Polack as he feels that nullifying the league with such small margins is against the fair play rules with many still with a chance of finishing in better positions.

“As a coach, I know the rules being quoted but even in England they apply when it is evident the top team has left others by a wide margin.”

“The best option and fair way to determine this season’s league winner is to ensure the remaining 10 matches are played,” he said.

Meanwhile, KPL Chief Executive Jack Oguda warned the clubs against deliberating over the next course of action, retaliating that the secretariat will explore all the available options before making its final decision.

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