October’s finest Abich hoping award brings Sofapaka luck

Noah Abich of Sofapaka FC celebrates scoring against Muhoroni Youth FC during their SportPesa Premier ...
Noah Abich of Sofapaka FC celebrates scoring against Muhoroni Youth FC during their SportPesa Premier League match at Ruaraka grounds on October 21, 2016. Sofapaka FC won 2-1. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.Sportpicha.com

Kenyan Premier League’s finest player for the month of October, Sofapaka FC right-back Noah Abich hopes his player of the month award will spur the team on to win against Thika United on Saturday as they continue to hold on to their faint hopes of escaping relegation.

Abich’s devastating form and immense industry have been crucial in boosting their bid to stay up the country’s top-flight, chipping in with two assists from inch perfect free-kicks during their shock 3-2 victory over AFC Leopards, one week after netting a priceless goal in Sofapaka’s 2-1 win over Muhoroni Youth.

The Batoto ba Mungu have 23 points, three adrift Ushuru FC but their superior goal difference (+6) over the Taxmen puts them in pole position to survive should they win their fixture and the result between Ushuru and Posta Rangers favors them.

“I’m so happy to be recognized but there is no time to celebrate as we are all anxiously looking forward to the weekend fixtures. Our fates are hanging in there.

“I’ve had a not so impressive year, having to sit out the first half then joining a club deep in relegation but together we have united for a common cause which is to stay up and through the tribulations we have faced as a club we retain hope of playing in top flight next year. The first leg was not impressive but we just want to do well in the remaining game and let God take care of the rest,” Abich said at the club’s training base in Eastleight High School

The award will no doubt add impetus to Sofapaka’s survival struggle as they make one final push to stay afloat in this Saturday’s season-ender against Thika United. The 30-year-old defender joined Sofapaka in June after leaving Mathare United unceremoniously at the beginning of 2016 season.

Together with other veterans deemed to be at the twilight of their careers, the golden oldies have turned Sofapaka from a certain relegation team to possible participants in 2017 Sportpesa Premier League.

His solo performance in October eclipsed everyone in the league leading to a landslide victory in the polls for player of the month award. Abich made to into the three-man shortlist alongside brawny Tusker defensive midfielder Hashim Sempala who has immensely helped the brewers plug a leaky back-line and the remodeled burly Gor Mahia  forward Enoch Agwanda.

A total of nine players had been nominated for the gong including Tusker duo Allan Wanga and David Okelo, Jared Obwoge of Chemelil Sugar, Sofapaka custodian Mathias Kigonya and Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma of Gor Mahia. Closer scrutiny, however, knocked out six players leaving Abich, Sempala and Agwanda to duel in the final round.

The creative former Mathare United, Tusker, AFC Leopards and Sony Sugar defender then garnered 19 votes to beat Sempala and Agwanda who respectively polled 12 and eleven. He joins Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Mohamed Sharif (Bandari), Wycliffe Ochomo (Muhoroni Youth), Khalid Aucho (Gor Mahia), Hillary Echesa (Chemelil Sugar), Kenneth Muguna and Wesley Kemboi both of Western Stima in the recipient list of the prestigious award this year.

With his team teetering on the brink of relegation, Abich, normally short of words issued a rallying call to his mates ahead of a league tie that could end Sofapaka’s eight-year top flight tenancy.

Abich’s October performance caps the best run for Sofapaka in 2016 as the club’s stand-in coach John Baraza also made it into the nominee’s list for Coach of the Month Award. Their 0-1 loss to Sony Sugar however, hampered his success chances but Abich stood out to emerge the best among players in the league.

The set-piece magician takes home an LG television screen that comes with the award and an additional KSh100000 cash prize.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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