Shocking refereeing errors dampen KPL title charge
Suspect officiating dampened the thrill of a tight title race in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) following a weekend where leaders Tusker FC managed to maintain their five-point cushion at the top.
Close rivals; champions Gor Mahia and Mathare United failed to take advantage of the Brewers slip up in their Sunday clash against Chemelil Sugar FC with referees hogging discussions on Internet chat rooms and social media due to appalling decision.
In round 18 of the top flight action, only two teams managed to bag maximum points in a weekend dominated by draws.
Muhoroni Youth are knocking on the top four after sinking Posta Rangers 2-1 while Sony Sugar are closing in on the top half after silencing cup winners Bandari FC 1-0.
Much of the outcomes hinged on the cancer of KPL-poor officiating- with the games featuring the front three; Tusker, Gor and Mathare at the centre of the latest controversies.
A goal netted from an offside position by Kepha Aswani earned AFC Leopards a 1-1 draw denying Mathare the chance to consolidate second place at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
Over in Machakos, Chemelil had a genuine strike against the Brewers in their enthralling 2-2 draw chalked off for the same offence in the 10th minute with justice seemingly served when Hilary Echesa cancelled out Allan Wanga’s 94th minute strike for a share of the spoils.
Centre referee; Peter Waweru, who in charge during K’Ogalo’s barren draw against Ushuru at Nyayo on Sunday was almost accosted by irate Gor supporters after being accused of entertaining brazen time wasting in the second half as the champions chased the decisive winner.
The table reads Tusker, 36, Gor, 31, Mathare, 31 with misfiring Ulinzi Stars who were held 1-1 by second from bottom Nairobi City Stars rounding off the top four on 28 points after also blowing the chance to craw the gap with the leaders.
Needless to say, the complexion at the summit could have changed had shocking decisions from match referees in games involving the title chasing sides not been influential in the outcomes.
Speaking to Citizen Digital on Monday KPL Limited Chief Executive Officer; Jack Oguda acknowledged they had taken note of the plummeting refereeing standards.
“Surely there is something wrong. We are engaging the federation on the matter, because it is their duty to ensure we have quality referees in our league. There is a committee in charge of referees which always assesses their performance.
“With their reports and consultation with FKF, we expect action in the next appointment phase,” the league body boss added.
Mathare boss, Francis Kimanzi led the chorus of condemnation following their draw with Leopards, in a competition where the margins are growing ever thinner with 12 rounds to go.
“I think that we did our best but we have been robbed. I am not happy at all. It is much better when you conceded a goal fairly. But when you are caused to lose points due to a referee’s decision then it is quite annoying,” the 2008 title winning coach with the Slum Boys complained on Saturday.
His sentiments were shared by K’Ogalo’s Brazilian boss, Marcello ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira, who rued what he considered to be two points lost.
“I am not happy! We have some of the best strikers in the league but they are not scoring goals. This is like a contractual job and everyone needs to fulfil their end of the bargain. The referees always play against Gor Mahia.
“The same thing happened in our last match and it is not good for the game. I also think that other teams should try to win the game sometimes, as opposed to using disruptive methods of gaining points,” he bitterly lamented.
“In today (Sunday)’s game, the Ushuru players kept throwing themselves at the ground at the slightest touch and staying there for four, five minutes. Those stoppages affect the rhythm of the game,” the KPL official website further quoted the Brazilian.
His opposite number, Ken Kenyatta, was delighted with restricting the champions and winning a point.
Away from the officiating fiasco, Sofapaka showed signs of resurgence despite remaining stuck at the bottom with a 1-1 draw away to Kakamega Homeboyz.
Their flamboyant President, Elly Kalekwa is back to the country to motivate his side as the 2009 champions battle to avoid the chop.
Besides the cash problems that have seen Batoto ba Mungu lose their best players in the last two transfer periods, head coach David Ouma’s double role with Harambee Starlets remains another hurdle to the club’s survival bid.
“These days you just have to be grateful for any result, as long as it is not a loss. Today we have picked up one point but remember that we were away from home and managed to score first in the game.
“That is very encouraging, so we look forward to even better results next time,” remarked Ouma, who will soon have to leave the bottom placed club in the hands of his assistant coach, John Baraza, as he travels with Starlets to Valencia, Spain.
Fourteen goals were scored, with Muhoroni’s Wycliffe Ochomo remaining top on the scorers chart with 11 in spite of missing Sunday’s outing through suspension.
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