It All Boils Down To This
18 game weeks over a period of 6 months, 126 games, 10,080 minutes of play under the scorching sun and pouring rain, it all boils down to this.
Game week 19, where we finally separate the title contenders from the pretenders, those made for the top flight and those who are not. Out of the 14 that kicked off the league on November 21st, only 12 will remain. More importantly 6 will proceed to the play offs, the home stretch for the battle to the throne .
The race for the 12 Kenya cup slots is all but dusted, the Bungoma Sharks already confirmed their route back to the Nationwide. The remaining slot is a battle between University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine and Thika RFC, the two are currently separated by a single point, with Machine on 7 points, Thika on 8.
This battle has been shaping up for the better part of the season, especially with the collapse of the Sharks and the improving Blak Blad, it had to be one of these two to join the Sharks. When they met on game week 14, the match ended in a 3 all draw. This weekend however something has to give.
Thika will be travelling to Kakamega to face Kabras Sugar who are in fourth, more on them a bit later. Machine will have the easier fixture, as they host the Sharks at the Kabete grounds. Whether the latter do travel or not, this one looks like another ‘great escape’ season for the Eschuma.
Let’s get to the fleshy part, what is bound to eat at our nails, hair follicles and blood pressure readings on Saturday afternoon and probably dictate how our Monday and rest of the week will look like.
8 teams going for 6 slots, 2 are already guaranteed of those slots, so we have 6 going for 4. If you take a closer look at the fixtures, it is more of 5 going for 3 slots.
League leaders Quins and second placed Impala are assured of a rest weekend next week, with a home semi final already in the bag. 4th placed Kabras can also rest easy, they host Thika at the Kakamega Showground, there is no way they are losing that one, is there?
That leaves KCB, Homeboyz, Nakuru, Strathmore and Mwamba battling it out for 3 slots, what makes it more interesting is that two of them are playing each other, with two others playing Quins and Impala, the other plays Nondies.
The defending champions are in 3rd on 67 points, they travel to Nakuru to face sixth placed Nakuru on 62 points. I can’t remember the last time KCB beat Nakuru in Nakuru, will the trend continue or will the Lions finally get one over the Wanyore. The hosts are on a 2 game losing streak and know that a loss here will all but bundle them out of the play offs.
The Homeboyz are in 5th, on 64 points tied with Kabras in 4th, they host league leaders Quins at the Jamuhuri show grounds. As mentioned earlier Quins with 76 points are already assured of a home semi, the only thing for them will be finishing top and above their perennial rivals, Impala.
The Djs will need this win, to assure themselves of a place in the play offs, if they were to lose then they will be hoping that the same fate meets Nakuru and Strathmore. The last time these two met in the league, Homeboyz beat Quins 36-22, before that Quins were 22-16 winners.
Leos in 7th on 62 points, tied with Nakuru take on second placed Impala at the Impala club. After that loss to Mwamba, Strathmore cannot afford to lose this one.
Semi finalists, Impala on 75 points will be looking to dislodge Quins from the summit of the standings, a position they have held for much of the season. The Leos will hope for a losing bonus point at the very least, then hope that Nakuru fail to collect the same if they are to sneak into the play offs.
We could as well hand Mwamba the five points, as they take on a battered Nondies side that soaked in 63 points last weekend. Impressive back to back wins against KCB and Strathmore have seen Kulabu hand themselves a lifeline in a race most had already written them off.
Though they are still outsiders in this one, a bonus point win takes them to 64 points, they then need to hope that Nakuru and Strathmore lose, for them to make it to 6th spot. Even as we hand Mwamba the 5 points, remember how we had also handed 5 pointers to both KCB and Strathmore against this Mwamba side?
The beauty about this game week is that most teams will be depending on the ‘goodwill’ of others, to make it to the play offs. For some, a win by itself won’t be enough, they need something else to happen to take them to the play off.
Let’s look at the math a bit closely, worst case scenarios or rather bare minimums. For KCB a losing bonus should be all they need, to take them to the magic number 68. Only Kabras and Homeboyz can better that mark, if both Nakuru and Strathmore get a winning bonus, it takes them to 67 points, still one short of KCB.
For Homeboyz, a loss will only do, if both Nakuru and Strathmore succumb to the same, to guarantee their safety they will need at least 4 points, taking them to that magical 68. If they get there it won’t matter what will be happening elsewhere the djs will be dancing their way to the play off. If however they manage a losing bonus point, they will be crossing their fingers that one of Nakuru or Leos also lose with or without a bonus point.
Nakuru can get to a maximum of 67 points, with a bonus win at the weekend, with the best points differential of the 5 (+468), that should get them to the next phase of the league. If the Djs win and KCB get a losing bonus at Nakuru High, the Wanyore will finish in 6th, no matter how other results go.
Leos have a similar ceiling to Nakuru, 67 and their math is almost similar to Nakuru’s but in their case Nakuru have to lose for them to proceed.
Mwamba’s numbers get a bit more complicated, in that they can only get to 65 points. This means that they will need Nakuru and Leos to lose, with Homeboyz also failing to pick up any points. If they are to sneak in past Homeboyz then they will need to score more than 151 points against Nondies, hoping that the Djs score no points against Quins.
In short if you are a KCB fan, you can almost breathe easy, as long as your side gets that losing bonus. Just in case they don’t, hope that you have talked to your friends at Quins and Impala nicely just to be sure that you get a decent seat at the play off.
The Djs should have made friends and good ones at that, with KCB and Impala. The Wanyore with Impala and Quins, the Leos with KCB and Quins, Mwamba, with them all. If you support any of the Ngong road power houses, you must have been the real hot cake this week, huh?
Has anyone thought of how things will look like if there are a couple of draws at the weekend? I won’t go there, relax.
In case you were wondering, this is how I see it playing out, Quins will beat Homeboyz with a bonus point, the Djs won’t make the bonus. KCB will beat Nakuru, without the bonus, Nakuru will make the losing bonus point. Impala will beat Strathmore but without the winning bonus, Strath will make the losing bonus. Mwamba to take 4 points against Nondies.
The Table will thus look something like this :
1. Quins – 81.
2. Impala – 80.
3. KCB – 71.
4. Kabras – 69.
5. Homeboyz – 64.
6. Nakuru – 63.
As I mentioned earlier, game week 19 promises to be nothing like we have seen before so carry your phone chargers, power banks, malaria kits and a friend. Make sure you don’t miss this action, you will not experience anything like it for quite a while…
Collated Match Day 19 Fixtures :
Western Bulls v Blak Blad – 4.00pm – The Bull Ring, Kakamega
Kabras Sugar v Thika – 4.00pm – Kakamega Showground
Mean Machine v Kenya Sharks – 4.00pm – UoN Kabete Campus
Nakuru v KCB – 4.00pm – Nakuru High School
Homeboyz v Kenya Harlequin – 2.00pm – Jamhuri Park
Nondescripts v Mwamba – 4.00pm – Jamhuri Park
Impala Saracens v Strathmore Leos – 4.00pm – Impala Club
Take this as my head to head challenge to you, who do you see making it to the play offs and how?