Tusker FC are one of the most successful football clubs in Kenya, but the Nairobi club has not won the Kenyan title since 2016.
As the Kenyan Premier League gets back on its feet, we examine Tusker’s chances of breaking Gor Mahia’s three-year stranglehold on the title.
The 11-time Kenyan champions ended the first half of the season on top of the table, but there is still a very long way to go before the Brewers can celebrate another triumph.
Like coach Robert Matano advises, the team must find a way to deal with the pressure that comes along with a title challenge if they are to be champions for a 12th time.
Speaking after Tusker’s 0-0 home draw against fellow title challengers, KCB on Matchday 17, Matano admitted that his players were not at their best, especially in attack, but he remained confident that the team will improve with time.
“We have to be more organized in attack because against KCB, we didn’t see much of any attacking play. We also didn’t play as a unit as usual but I know with time we will be okay.”
Forward Boniface Muchiri also echoes those sentiments, claiming that pressure will make the team better.
The draw against KCB would have been particularly frustrating because the visitors played the last 23 minutes of the contest with 10 men following the dismissal of Curtis Wekesa midway through the second half.
To be fair, that match was Tusker’s first since March, so there were always likely to be elements of rustiness. Before the long break, they had won 11 of their 16 matches and lost only two.
They remain the team to beat in the Kenyan Premier League. If you are into sports betting, this may be a good time to invest in the Brewers on betting sites in Kenya.
Tusker’s biggest title rivals are KCB and AFC Leopards, while reigning champions, Gor Mahia seem to be too far behind to usurp the current leaders and maintain their recent monopoly on the Kenyan title.
KCB have never won the Kenyan Premier League, while Leopards, the 12-time winners, have not been champions since 1998.
Tusker, on the other hand, have won the title three times in the last decade. More than their nearest rivals, Matano’s men have recent experience of managing title runs.
If Gor Mahia were closer on the table, maybe there would have been greater reason to panic. The 19-time champions will have to put together a sensational second half of the season, while Tusker embark on a collapse, to have any chance of winning the title.
That said, Gor Mahia are not about to give up their title without a fight.
“I know by the time we get to the end of the season; we will be in a good position to win the title”, said midfielder, Kenneth Muguna ahead of the resumption of the season.
Before the break, Gor Mahia had already lost six of 14 matches. They have to improve their form dramatically if they are to get anywhere near Tusker in the title race.
There is also the small matter of continental football to battle for.
Following directives by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Football Kenya Federation has until June 30 to present their representatives for next season’s CAF Champions League.
Since the Kenyan season will still be on by then, the FKF has decided that the team on top of the league table as at June 30 will represent Kenya in the Champions League.
Having led the table for most parts of the campaign, Tusker will be desperate to hang on to that position for the next few weeks at the very least and get into the Champions League.
They will also have their eyes firmly set on the bigger picture, which is to reclaim the crown they last won in 2016.