What you need to know:
- Last year, Gor Mahia not only ‘retained’ the league title in dubious fashion during an inconclusive season, but also earned the right to represent Kenya in the Caf Champions League.
- This time round it is Tusker who have ‘qualified’ to represent Kenya in the continent’s premier club competition with 10 rounds of matches yet to be played and with everything still to play for before the season ends.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. But for the second year in a row, Kenyan Premier League clubs will have to contend with Football Kenya Federation’s arbitrary decision to dish out tickets to continental club football way before the end of the season.
Last year, Gor Mahia not only ‘retained’ the league title in dubious fashion during an inconclusive season, but also earned the right to represent Kenya in the Caf Champions League.
This time round it is Tusker who have ‘qualified’ to represent Kenya in the continent’s premier club competition with 10 rounds of matches yet to be played and with everything still to play for before the season ends.
Blame it on Covid-19, at least by the federation’s rule book, but as you would expect, FKF’s new gold standard for qualification to continent football has sharply divided opinion among clubs and fans alike.
That was the case last season when Gor Mahia were the sole beneficiary of FKF erratic decision-making.
Why, for instance, was K’Ogalo’s name forwarded to Caf as Kenya’s representatives in the top tier club competition, and Bandari, the holders of the domestic cup, denied a ticket to the Caf Confederation Cup? It’s a question that remains unanswered. A question that my senior colleague, Philip Onyango wuod Ombajo, has grown weary of loudly complaining about.
But it is what it is and providence has now decreed that Tusker FC will be the country’s flag bearers in the 2021/22 Caf Champions League season.
I can bet my cynical views will certainly not sit well with Tusker lovers – the Ruaraka-based club’s handful of fans, not the consumers of their world famous alcohol beverage by the same name.
And even with Gor Mahia’s fanatical fans screaming blue murder, Tusker fans, led by my colleague on the Daily Nation Sports Desk, Japheth Mutinda, will certainly toast to this one, never mind the fact that good old Japh doesn’t consume the frothy stuff from Ruaraka.
Gor Mahia, who have clawed their way back into contention after a dreadful start to this season’s league campaign, are projecting themselves as the most aggrieved by Tusker’s most recent gains.
And rightfully so given that with the exclusion of AFC Leopards, Tusker is the one club that has time and again brought upon the K’Ogalo nation untold misery.
The most poignant incident in recent years when Tusker ruined K’Ogalo’s party is without doubt 2012 when the brewers snatched the league title from Gor Mahia’s grasp on the very final day of the season. That Gor Mahia had at the time gone 17 long years without laying their hands on the league trophy, explained all the weeping and wailing that rent the air at City Stadium that gloomy Saturday afternoon.
Mercifully, better times would soon follow. K’Ogalo have since won seven league titles – including the disputed one last season – with Tusker the only league winners (2016) in between Gor Mahia’s eight-year spell of dominance.
In sum, as veteran sports journalist Roy Gachuhi puts it, giving Gor and Leopards a hard time is thus mapped in Tusker’s DNA. Both clubs were forced to die a little so that Tusker could be born, he writes in his book Kickoff: The Game, The Glory and The Greats of Kenyan Football.
To be fair to Tusker, though, the brewers have earned their place in continental football, at least as per FKF’s wayward edict. So let the Ruaraka lads have their day in the sun.