Sofapaka gives up title race as charging Gor widen gap to 10 points


Sofapaka gives up title race as charging Gor widen gap to 10 points
Sofapaka FC head coach John Baraza reacts during their SportPesa Premier League match at Kenyatta stadium on October 23, 2016. Sofapaka FC won 3-2. Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha.

In Summary

  • Sofapaka head coach John Baraza has attributed their title collapse to the slow start they had in the league.
  • The Batoto ba Mungu gave a huge fight for the gong challenging leaders Gor Mahia all through but their title dreams were extinguished at the weekend after succumbing to a 2-0 loss to the record champions.
  • The defeat all but ended the slim hopes they had of bagging the gong as K’Ogalo opened up a 10-point gap over them.

Sofapaka head coach John Baraza has attributed their title collapse to the slow start they had in the league.

The Batoto ba Mungu gave a huge fight for the gong challenging leaders Gor Mahia all through but their title dreams were extinguished at the weekend after succumbing to a 2-0 loss to the record champions.

The defeat all but ended the slim hopes they had of bagging the gong as K’Ogalo opened up a 10-point gap over them.

Gor are atop the log on 66 points while the John Baraza coached Sofapaka are second on 56 as Bandari comes third on 52 points through the Dockers  have two games in hand to Sofapaka.

After the entertaining clash at the Moi Stadium Kisumu, Baraza, a former Sofapaka captain and Harambee Stars ace, congratulated Gor for the ‘their fine run in the league’ but pointed out things fell apart for the 2009 champions early in the season.

“We can conclude today (Sunday) that the title is gone, the gap between us and Gor is too big to be bridged. However, looking at our record, we lost the fight at the start of the season when we allowed at some point the table toppers to be 18 points ahead.

“Had we balanced the season from the onset, we would be firmly in the title contention even now, or we would have won it already,” said Baraza, who had been relegated to assistant coach role during the preseason.

The soft spoken Baraza, known for his ever emphasized fairplay approach, had led Sofapaka to the end of the 2018 season, after the departure of Ugandan Sam Ssimbwa who had struggled to keep the promise of leading Batoto ba Mungu back to KPL glory.

His efforts were however not rewarded as it were, and president Elly Kalekwa replaced him with current Mt. Kenya FC coach Melis Medo, who however didn’t have a rose run with the 2009 league champions, guiding them to just one win in eight outings early in the season.

But the poor spate of results prompted Kalekwa to elevate Baraza as head coach role while dismissing Medo, and results began to improve.

“We will talk and see what we can do to make next season better. There was another person at the beginning and my plans only came to be implemented much later.

“We have built confidence in this team and we can without doubt say we are almost there; a formidable team with determined players who can propel us to greater heights next season. The most important thing is to be sure of what we are doing now, and what we will be doing in the preseason eyeing 2019/20 season,” offered Baraza.

Citizen Digital has since learnt that Kalekwa apologized to Baraza before his players after his strong comeback which saw his men leap from the danger zone info the title race, signalling his role in the team could be well defined early enough for the coming season.

Second spot

Sofapaka will now strive to seal second spot in the league, which according to the coach will be a consolation after their lost gong ambitions.

“We have every reason to finish strongly. There are tough remaining matches but we must get the best out of them. Today (Sunday) we played well especially in the first half but we couldn’t convert the chances we created, of course against quite a strong side.

“After they scored the opener we thought we could press for an equalizer only for my defender Omar Moussa) to miscalculate, exposing the goalkeeper (Justine Ndikumana) for the second goal which killed the game. We must be more alert going forward,” added Baraza.

Guard of honor

Meanwhile, the win for K’Ogalo put then just a win away to their third KPL title in a row, their 18th in the history of the competition.

A win on Wednesday for the Hassan Okatay coached men will mean eternal rivals AFC Leopards will parade a guard of honor for Gor in the Sunday’s Mashemeji Derby at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

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