What you need to know:
- Gor Mahia host KCB at the same venue from 1pm on Saturday with K’Ogalo looking to make amends for their eighth-place finish last season
- Last season, Leopards beat Tusker 2-1 in the first leg in November 2020 but the brewers won the return leg 2-0 in February this year
- In the absence of Belgian coach Patrick Aussems, AFC Leopards assistant coach Tom ‘Gaza’ Juma will be in charge of the team devoid of former stars
Champions Tusker launch their Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) title defence against AFC Leopards as the 2021/22 season kicks off this weekend.
Last season’s runners up KCB will face record champions Gor Mahia in another match that highlights Round One action.
The new season kicks off without a title sponsor, signaling tough financial times for many clubs which also lack sponsorship with exception of institutional based clubs.
This is after the exit of title sponsors, gaming firm BetKing towards the end of last season. FKF President Nick Mwendwa recently revealed they are yet to find a new title sponsor and the process could take longer than expected.
Six other matches will also be played across different venues in the country with debutants Talanta, Kenya Police and Vihiga Bullets taking on Wazito, Kakamega Homeboyz and Bidco United respectively in their maiden fixtures in the topflight league.
Unlike last season when the league was halted thrice after government suspended sports activities to curb spread of coronavirus, FKF President Nick Mwendwa said he expects the situation to be different this season.
Fans will also be closely monitoring how the league progreses as they anticipate a gradual return to the stadiums if the government relaxes the current measures on coronavirus pandemic.
Fresh from winning the Super Cup on post-match penalties against Gor Mahia on Wednesday, Tusker will be up against a new-look AFC Leopards at Thika Sub County Stadium on Sunday from 1pm.
The match had earlier been scheduled for Nyayo National Stadium but the venue was changed after the Stadium management board allegedly said that the facility will only be used for international matches this season.
Gor Mahia host KCB at the same venue from 1pm on Saturday with K’Ogalo looking to make amends for their eighth-place finish last season.
Tusker have signed 12 new players and will be banking on their new Tanzanian striker Joshua Ibrahim, who has been in top form to score against Leopards.
Joshua, who was signed from Tanzanian Division One Side Kent Gold, already has three goals to his name, having bagged two in the two-leg Caf Champions League preliminary round match against Arta Solar 7 of Djibouti and one against Gor in the Super Cup.
Last season, Leopards beat Tusker 2-1 in the first leg in November 2020 but the brewers won the return leg 2-0 in February this year. Leopards also beat Tusker 1-0 in June to eliminate them from FKF Betway Cup at the quarter-finals stage.
“We are well prepared to defend our title and every player in my squad will have a chance to play in the league depending on hard work. Our matches against Leopards have always been tough but we look forward to a good game and start on winning momentum,” said Tusker tactician Robert Matano.
In the absence of Belgian coach Patrick Aussems, AFC Leopards assistant coach Tom ‘Gaza’ Juma will be in charge of the team devoid of former stars following mass exodus of dependable players.
Ingwe are currently serving a two-window transfer ban due to debts owed to former coach Andre Casa Mbungo and Rwandan midfielder Vincent Habamahoro.
“It will be a tough game but we have enough players to make the match day squad. We have also promoted talented players from the youth team and I believe they have what it takes to compete in the top league. Gor and AFC always have the same target when the league kicks off and that is to win it. It has never changed,” Juma told Nation Sport.
As the season kicks off, teams are also bolstering their squad with the transfer window set to close on October 23. Apart from Tusker, Wazito, Sofapaka, FC Talanta and Kariobangi Sharks have been on a signing spree.
Fixtures (All matches at 3pm unless stated)
Posta Rangers v Kariobangi Sharks, Thika Stadium 3.15pm
Gor Mahia v KCB, Thika Stadium 1pm
Vihiga Bullets v Bidco United, Bukhungu Stadium
Bandari vs Mathare United, Mbaraki Stadium
Talanta v Wazito, Ruaraka Grounds 1pm
Sofapaka v Nairobi City Stars, Ruaraka Grounds
AFC Leopards v Tusker Thika Stadium, 1pm
Ulinzi Stars v Nzoia Sugar ASK Grounds, Nakuru
Kakamega Homeboyz v Police FC, Bukhungu Stadium