FKF-PL: Nzoia Sugar, KCB leapfrog wobbly Tusker

 Kevin Juma

Nzoia Sugar’s Kevin Juma (left) vies for the ball with Eric Zakayo of Tusker FC during their Football Kenya Federation Premier League match at Ruaraka grounds on January 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In contrast to the past seasons where the team has always narrowly survived relegation, the Bungoma-based side is on fire this season as they top the league table on 21 points from 10 matches
  • KCB have also amassed 21 points from the same number of games but have an inferior goal difference compared to the sugar millers who have a youthful team with an average age of 21 years
  • As Nzoia basked in the glory of good performance, defending champions Tusker skid continued after dropping points in the last three matches

Nzoia Sugar coach Salim Babu says they are not pacesetters and have set their eyes on the Football Kenya Federation Premier League title they last won in 2001.  

In contrast to the past seasons where the team has always narrowly survived relegation, the Bungoma-based side is on fire this season as they top the league table on 21 points from 10 matches.

KCB have also amassed 21 points from the same number of games but have an inferior goal difference compared to the sugar millers who have a youthful team with an average age of 21 years.

“We are not pacesetters, our focus is on winning our matches. This team has settled and is keen on producing some of the finest performance in the league which will shock many. We are on a mission and have young disciplined players. Anybody saying we are pacesetters will be shocked,” said Babu. 

The sugar millers have earned praises for their system of play of short passes and impressive build-up to their goals.

On Wednesday, the team had 15 passes leading to their third goal in the 4-0 win over Wazito. In fact, no team has bagged maximum points this season at their Sudi Stadium backyard. 

Midfielder Hassan Beja has been the engine of Nzoia Sugar with his ability to hold the ball, allowing other players to open up on spaces and great dribbling skills past opponents. Last weekend, he troubled Wazito's defence and assisted all the goals scored. 

Forward Joseph Mwangi has also been vital in the team’s good performance and has been lethal so far having netted five goals. Mwangi terrorised Wazito’s defence and bagged a hat-trick in the big win.

Of the 10 matches, Nzoia Sugar's only loss this season was 1-0 defeat to Gor Mahia in the league’s opener at Nyayo National Stadium on November 19. They have also recorded barren draws against Bandari and Tusker on November 26 and January 14. Neighbours Kakamega Homeboyz also held them to a 1-1 draw On January 8.

As Nzoia basked in the glory of good performance, defending champions Tusker skid continued after dropping points in the last three matches. Tusker lost 2-1 to Bandari three weeks ago before being held to a 1-1 draw by Nzoia Sugar and 2-2 draw by FC Talanta in the last two games. 

The brewers are now third on the log with 20 points and will have to pull up their socks to push for a third consecutive league title. The 13-time champions are still the highest scoring side in the FKF-PL having managed 15 goals followed by fourth-placed Ulinzi Stars on 14 goals.

For Gor Mahia, fans seem to be running out of patience with coach Jonathan McKinstry after the team was jeered following a barren draw against Sofapaka. 

Being the only other foreign coach apart from Patrick Aussems (AFC Leopards) in FKF-PL, K'Ogalo fans were confident that McKinstry was the man to restore lost glory. However, under the Irishman, Gor have blown hot and cold this season. 

Despite having two games in hand and the only side to have conceded only three goals, Gor have a big problem in attack and only score when their lead striker Benson Omala is on form.   

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