It Is Cross Over Season
Some time in October, when the 2016/17 Kenya cup fixtures were released, a few friends and I noticed how we had a potentially super competitive season on our hands, I’ll explain.
In the new Kenya cup format, the 12 teams were grouped into two pools of 6. In the first round fixtures, a team would play the sides in its pool on a home and away basis. The second round, which we are now in, will see sides cross over to face the sides in the other pool in a one off.
What was of even more interest however, was the constitution of the two pools, that made for very interesting reading. On one side you had ‘Pool Ngong Road’ as the name suggests, all the sides based on Ngong road found themselves in this pool. i.e Kenya Harlequin, Impala, Homeboyz, Nondies they were joined by Strathmore Leos and BlakBlad.
The other pool was ‘Mashinani’ which hosted Kabras, KCB, Mwamba, Western Bulls, Nakuru and Mean Machine. While you might notice the obvious travelling strain on the Mashinani pool given the two legged ties, a closer look will reveal something about the styles of play in these two pools.
Pool Ngong rd hosted the more technical and tactical sides in Quins, Impala, Strathmore and Nondies, while Pool Mashinani hosted the pure brute of Kabras, KCB, Nakuru and Mwamba. When you look at it like that, you notice these sides have so far been exposed majorly to only one style of play.
It is how these sides will adapt to the different style in the coming weeks that I will be keen on seeing during this cross over. KCB have managed to come out unscathed in the physically demanding ‘Mashinani pool,’ while Quins lead the way from that tactical Ngong road pool.
In the next 5 weeks, expect nail biting action as the battle for the top six slots heats up. We already saw Quins get bullied at the hands of Kulabu last weekend, Impala got away by the skin of their teeth in Kakamega against the Bulls. If these are anything to go by, buckle up ladies and gentlemen.
This weekend, Impala host Mwamba, as Quins take on Nakuru across the fence in two potential crackers, not forgetting Nondies vs Western Bulls at the Jamuhuri park.
All eyes will however be at the Lion’s den in Ruaraka where KCB will take on Homeboyz. While this match up might not necessarily be a battle of playing styles, it promises to be a real blockbuster.
Pound for pound these are probably two of the most devastating ball carrying teams, in the league right now (we see you too Kabras), shoulders will definitely be tested in Ruaraka.
Going by our earlier theory of the pools and styles of play, this match up then suites KCB more than it does Homeboyz. The Lions have faced their fair share of physical contests at the hands of Kabras, Mwamba and Nakuru, while the Djs have rarely been tested physically this far.
I witnessed them bully a stunned Impala side 41-13 a week after they had beaten Quins 15-10. KCB were stretched the two times they faced Kabras and when they took on Mwamba at the Railway Club.
Will Homeboyz be able to do the same, maybe even go one better than the defending champions and beat KCB? Or will the battle hardened Lions again stand up to a physical contest and emerge victorious?
This is just week two of the cross over, we are yet to see Kabras take on Homeboyz, Impala and Quins, KCB face the Ngong road duo and let us not forget about Nondies. The red lion has been slowly putting together brilliant performances and might just be in line for a big win.
These next 5 weeks, before the end of the league phase, promise to be a battle like none other. Machine’s fate at the bottom of the pile is probably sealed, the rest have everything to fight for. Blad (10 points) and Bulls (10 points) will be looking to evade that 2nd last slot, Strathmore (11 points) might also find themselves in that battle.
Nondies (15 points) will most probably finish in eighth, seeing us they are 15 points behind 7th spot, from where things get really interesting. Mwamba sit in 7th on 30 points, Nakuru in 6th on 34 points, Impala in 5th on 35, Homeboyz in 4th on 37 (Note that Impala and Homeboyz have played a game less than everyone else in the top 7).
The top three are Kabras (40), Quins (45) and KCB (50). Remember only the top two get direct semi final qualification with the next four battling it out in the play offs.
Wherever you maybe, whatever team you support, I hope you are looking forward to these next 5 weeks as much as I am. Enjoy the cross over season!
P.S Here are the fixtures you will be looking forward to :
Match Day 13
Saturday 18 February 2017
Kabras Sugar v Strathmore Leos – 4.00pm, Kakamega Showground
KCB v Menengai Cream Homeboyz – 4.00pm, KCB Sports Club
Nondescripts v Western Bulls – 4.00pm, Jamhuri Park
Resolution Impala Saracens v Mwamba – 4.00pm, Impala Club
SportPesa Quins v Top Fry Nakuru – 4.00pm, RFUEA
Mean Machine v Blak Blad – 4.00pm, UoN
Match Day 14
Saturday 4 March 2017
KCB v Nondescripts – 4.00pm, KCB Sports Club
Top Fry Nakuru v Resolution Impala Saracens – 4.00pm, Nakuru Athletic Club
Mean Machine v SportPesa Quins – 4.00pm, UoN
Mwamba v Blak Blad – 4.00pm, Railway Club
Strathmore Leos v Western Bulls – 4.00pm, Madaraka
Menengai Cream Homeboyz v Kabras Sugar – 4.15pm, Jamhuri Park
Match Day 15
Saturday 11 March 2017
Kabras Sugar v SportPesa Quins – 4.00pm, Kakamega Showground
Western Bulls v Menengai Cream Homeboyz – 4.00pm, Kakamega High School
Mwamba v Nondescripts – 4.00pm, Railway Club
Resolution Impala Saracens v KCB – 4.00pm, Impala Club
Blak Blad v Top Fry Nakuru – 4.00pm, Kenyatta University
Strathmore Leos v Mean Machine – 4.00pm, TBC
Match Day 16
Saturday 18 March 2017
Kabras Sugar v Resolution Impala Saracens – 4.00pm, Kakamega Showground
SportPesa Quins v KCB – 4.00pm, RFUEA
Top Fry Nakuru v Menengai Cream Homeboyz – 4.00pm, Nakuru Athletic Club
Strathmore Leos v Mwamba – 4.00pm, TBC
Western Bulls v Blak Blad – 4.00pm, Kakamega High School
Nondescripts v Mean Machine – 4.00pm, Jamhuri Park
Match Day 7 (Brought forward from Saturday 17 December 2016)
Saturday 25 March 2017
SportPesa Quins v Strathmore Leos
Kabras Sugar v Western Bulls
Top Fry Nakuru v Mean Machine
Resolution Impala Saracens v Blak Blad
Menengai Cream Homeboyz v Nondescripts
KCB v Mwamba