The Kenya cup regular season came to a screeching halt on Saturday 29 with a blockbuster between champions KCB and a threatening Homeboyz highlighting the day.
Kicking off on October 26, with 96 matches lined up, the Kenya cup regular season is now a thing of the past as all eyes are trained on the playoffs where Impala will tackle Mwamba in a home quarter while Homeboyz will welcome Oilers for the second quarter on the same venue.
Here are a few pointers picked after the 16 rounds.
Is it the Homeboyz season?
The Deejayz return to the playoffs, where they have been consistent candidates since the 2015/16 season, with an exception of last season which saw them miss out after a tirade of issues engulfed the Jamhuri based side.
Jason Hector was a disappointed man after the KCB clash which ended in a 22-22 draw, feeling his team should have come out with a win. Homeboyz threw away a first-half lead and dominance to let KCB back into the fold in the second stanza. When a draw against the champions seems not enough, Hector surely must have his sights set on the ultimate prize.
The two teams are on course for a semi-final clash and the inability of Homeboyz to finish off KCB over the weekend will leave them doubting their ability to hunt down the lions in their backyard. With factors such as ground advantage and support from the stands set to play against the deejays, can they upset the three-peat champions in case of a semi-final meeting? Or will they tango to their own music?
Oilers well greased for Kenya cup challenge
Their second season in the top tier and Oilers are in the playoffs. This may not come as a surprise to those who have closely followed the Nakuru based outfit from their nationwide and championship days. Now they are deservingly stealing the limelight from their townmates Nakuru RFC who finished seventh after the regular season.
Under the tutelage of Gibson Weru, Oilers set out to maintain their Kenya cup status quo in the first season and they surely avoided relegation by finishing eighth after the regular season. In the build-up to last year’s floodies final against KCB, after bundling out hosts Impala, Weru was categorical of their playoff target and true to his words, playoffs it is for Oilers.
Astute management, strategic signings and of course good sponsorship played a big role in Oilers’ successful 2019/20 campaign and if things continue on the same trajectory for them, it will not be long before they start brushing shoulders with the big boys in terms of Kenya cup contention.
Blak Blad, masters of an art
How many times have we seen the students along Thika Road on the brink of relegation with three or four matches on the roster? A good number of times; enough to call them masters of the art of Kenya cup survival as they prepare for their eighth season in a row after being bundled out of the enterprise cup by KCB. Blak Blad have not been relegated since the 2012/13 season.
Competing against well-monied sides, the students are forced to juggle between studies and the game as they come up against semi-professionals week in, week out. Strathmore Leos had their 11 year stint at the top tier come to an abrupt end in the 2018/19 season with a loss to Blad in the last day of the regular season. A hammering at the hands of Blad left Western Bulls on a slippery slope to demotion this season, but the students remain firmly rooted in the Kenya Cup. For how much longer, nobody knows.
Newcomers finding Kenya cup unwelcoming
Kisumu and Western Bulls’ jubilant entry into the Kenya cup ended in tears as both outfits were unceremoniously bundled out of the top tier. Last season saw Mean Machine who had worked their way back into Kenya Cup relegated once again.
Kisii and Mombasa suffered the same fate in the 2017/18 season, facing relegation after just a season in Kenya cup. Only Oilers have survived and thrived in those three seasons.
Are teams gaining promotion not well prepared for the level of footy in the country’s elite league? Is it an issue to do with sponsorship?
Ailing former Kenya cup sides
As the curtains fell on the regular season in the championship league, teams at the bottom of the log attracted as much attention as those at the top. Reason being? All are former Kenya Cup sides who will be forced to play in the nationwide league come next season.
What happened to these teams? Catholic Monks narrowly escaped relegation after a superior point difference condemned Mombasa RFC to join Kisii in the relegation party.
Kisii RFC understandably battled financial restraints throughout the season, consequently limiting their ability to travel for away matches. Monks last appeared on Kenya Cup fixtures during the 2014/15 season while Mombasa and Kisii bid farewell to the Kenya cup during the 2017/18 season.
What happened to these once-promising sides? Or rather what is happening?