These Will Be Your Top 6
A few weeks back, Barrack Bukusi wrote a great piece on how, based on the then current form, he thought the Kenya cup sides would finish the regular season.
With 4 weeks left in the regular season, I take my stab at predicting how the table will look like at the end of match day 19, especially the top 6. Unlike Barrack though, I’ll try break it down game by game, so yes you might need those calculators again.
After match day 15, the race for the 6 play off spots is down to 7 sides. Mathematically however, with a maximum of 20 points up for grabs, the top 8 are still in it.
The table should look like this currently (I will only pick the stats that matter, total points and the aggregate points):
1. Impala – 65 (+483)
2. Harlequin – 61 (+364)
3. KCB – 57 (+338)
4. Nakuru – 56 (+424)
5. Homeboyz – 54 (+376)
6. Strathmore – 52 (+316)
7. Kabras – 48 (+356)
8. Mwamba – 46 (+171)
All indications point to the Sarries finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season. Back to back wins over Kabras and KCB should have all but killed any doubts that lingered over the side.
Next 4 fixtures : Blak Blad (h), Kabras (a), Nondies (a) and Strathmore (h).
From a possible 20 points, the gazelles should comfortably pick up 10, that is from a Blad, a side they white washed 81-0 on match day 13 and Nondies who they convincingly beat 50-9 the week before the Blad game. Their tricky fixtures should be against Kabras and Strathmore.
I should have probably said 15 points, considering that Impala beat Kabras 31-14 on match day 14. But Kabras are a different animal in Kakamega. The only sides to have beaten them at home this season are Nakuru on match day 4, posting a 16-5 win and Homeboyz on match day 7, where they posted a 28-29 result.
Looking at Kabras’ place on the table they can not afford a slip up, on paper they need this win more than Impala do. With revenge on their minds this will be a tough one to call.
The first meeting between Impala and Strathmore will take place on the last weekend of the regular season. The Leos have been Impala’s bogey team over the last couple of seasons, but so has everyone else really. The last three league fixtures between these two have ended in 59-10, 33-10 and 34-17 results in favour of the Leos.
What Impala have done superbly this season is turn the tables on the sides that have been caused them trouble in the past. Read Nakuru, Homeboyz, Mwamba and most recently KCB.
Out of those ‘tricky’ 10 points I see Impala getting at least 4. The four will come most probably against Strathmore. That takes Impala’s total tally for the season to 79 points.
The only side that looks like challenging Impala this season is Quins, the only side to have beaten the Sarries this far. They have done that twice.
The only problem with Quins so far, is that they don’t seem to have a middle ground, they are either winning big or losing in the same fashion.
Next four fixtures : Western Bulls (h), Bungoma Sharks (h), Nakuru (h), Homeboyz (a)
From a possible 20, just like their neighbours, I see the Quin picking up a guaranteed 10 then battling for the other 10.
The Western Bulls and Bungoma fixtures should be straight forward bonus point wins for them. It will be the Nakuru and Homeboyz fixtures that will give them sleepless nights.
The first encounter against Nakuru ended in 43-14 defeat at the NAC, the Quin was simply out muscled in this one. What Quins have done so well this season is control the tempo of games, something that was exemplified especially in the wins against Impala and KCB. Playing in their own terms if you would, to break it down further, ‘wamekua na ubaba fulani.’
That ‘ubaba’ will need to be in full force in the two fixtures. The last 3 fixtures against Homeboyz have seen the Quin win once a 22-16 result in the 2013/14 season. The Djs winning the rest, 29-27 in 2012/13 and 36-22 last season.
From these 10 points I see Quins picking 4, most probably against the Homeboyz. Taking their season’s tally to 75.
The defending champions have had a luke warm season so far, having lost vital players either to injury or transfer. They have however managed to somehow remain in the top 4 this season.
From my observations what ails the Lions this season is a lack of true leadership in the side. From having the likes of Philip Wamae, Jacob Ojee, Max Adaka and Fabian Olando all leading from the front last year. The players now tasked with leading the side have seemed in most cases overwhelmed, perhaps never imagining themselves in sole leadership roles this soon. That would probably explain why the Lions have been exceptional when club captain Andrew Amonde has been available.
Next four fixtures : Homeboyz (a), Mwamba (h), Bungoma Sharks (h), Nakuru (a)
With no home ground this season, those fixtures might as well read (a) across the board. From a possible 20, the Lions are guaranteed of 5, against the Sharks, a fixture that they’ll probably need to travel to Bungoma for, in order to get as many points as they can.
The first leg fixture against Mwamba ended in a 27-19 win for the Lions at the Railway club on match day 8. Mwamba literally have no room for slip ups, this fixture will probably feature the sevens players which makes it even more mouth watering.
What KCB have done perfectly so far this season, is pick up a bonus in every game, whether a losing or a winning one.
They suffered their first ever defeat to the Djs in the Kenya cup, a 27-22 result on match day 9. The Lions will definitely be out for revenge on match day 16 when these two square it out once again.
The last day of the regular season will see the Lions travel to a venue that they haven’t won at in the last 3 seasons, the Suguta Valley. In the last 3 seasons KCB have lost 20-17, 21-7, 26-10 and 23-20 in the league to Nakuru at the NAC.
From a possible 15 ‘tricky’ points, I expect the Lions to pick up 9, from wins against Mwamba and Homeboyz and a losing bonus from Nakuru. That takes their season’s tally to 71.
After faltering start to this season, the Wanyore have finally found their footing and are back in the battle for the play off spots.
The likes of Geoffrey Ominde, Mike Okombe, Leslie Ochieng and Edwins Makori have been at the core of the Wanyore re-awakening and have led the side back to winning ways. The young charges have stepped up to the plate and grabbed the opportunity they were handed with both hands, putting in great performances.
Next four fixtures : Bungoma Sharks (h), Strathmore (a), Quins (a), KCB (h).
From a possible 20, I see Nakuru picking up at least 17 points, here is why.
The Bungoma Sharks fixture will be a straight forward bonus point win, they won the first leg 110-15 in Bungoma, they will however most likely need to travel back there for the return.
In Strathmore, Quins and KCB, I don’t see any of them matching Nakuru in the forwards. They already beat Quins 43-14 in the first leg as mentioned earlier. Strathmore are yet to beat Nakuru in the Kenya cup, losing 15-10, 37-3, 24-11, 30-16, 17-6 and 21-15 in the last 3 season.
I have already mentioned how Nakuru always beat KCB at the NAC. So that takes Nakuru’s season tally to 73 points.
The Djs started brightly this season, winning 9 out of their 11 opening fixtures, including wins over Nakuru, KCB and Kabras. They have however struggled in the recent past after losing influential captain Joshua Chisanga to the Newcastle Falcons and the likes of Augustine Lughonzo, Leonard Mugaisi and Oscar Ayodi to the sevens national team, Bush Mwale and Jeff Oluoch to injury.
Next four fixtures : KCB (h), Machine (h), Thika (a), Quins (h).
From these four, I have already talked about 2, the Quins and KCB fixtures, the tricky ones for the Djs. Machine and Thika should be straight forward bonus wins, giving them a guaranteed 10 points.
After claiming their first Kenya cup win over KCB on match day 9, I don’t think the Djs will complete the double over KCB. As stated earlier I also don’t see them getting a win over Quins, despite holding a 2-1 advantage in previous league meetings. The best they can do is collect a losing bonus from these two fixtures.
That will take their season’s tally to 66 points.
The Leos have had an almost identical season to their arch rivals the Djs, up until match day 8 when they lost to Kabras and started a downward spiral, eventually recording 7 wins in their opening 11 matches.
Unlike other seasons the Leos have taken a back seat if you can call it that, in the race to the play offs. In previous seasons they have been in the fore front, finishing in the top two for the last three seasons, that might be a bit too far fetched a target for them this season.
Next Four Fixtures : Thika (h), Nakuru (h), Mwamba (a), Impala (a)
From 20 points, the Leos are at the very least assured of 5 points from Thika RFC at the cage. The other 15 will be anyone’s guess.
I have already mentioned how I think the fixtures against Nakuru and Impala will go, the Leos will probably pick up a losing bonus from one of these two.
After narrowly losing the first leg fixture against Mwamba 19-11, I think the Leos will avenge that defeat on match day 18 at the Railway club, with a bonus point win. So from a possible 20 points, the Leos should collect 11, taking their season’s tally to 63 points.
Kabras Sugar RFC
For a side that had won only one of their opening 5 fixtures, the sugar millers are fortunate to be in seventh and owe it to their home record or should I say ‘anywhere but Nairobi’ record, and the ‘good will’ of the sides around them for not taking full advantage.
Their current position on the table does not reflect the amount of investment put into the side. Their biggest challenge so far has been playing in the capital where they have managed one win and a draw in 5 visits.
Next four games : Nondies (a), Impala (h), Blak Blad (a), Thika (h).
I think Kabras will get at least 19 points from the possible 20 points, having already beaten Nondies 47-8 at the Jamuhuri grounds on match day 13, in their only win in the capital. They should comfortably grab a bonus win here as they should against Blad and Thika.
The Impala fixture that I have already touched on will be a real cracker, with Kabras already having lost the first leg 31-14 (after camping in the capital for a fortnight), they will be out to avenge that loss and win what will be the equivalent of a play off final for them. I see them doing just that, to take their season’s tally to 67 points.
Mwamba make this list purely for mathematical reasons, after all but losing the play off battle with those back to back losses to Quins and Nakuru on match day 14 and 15.
It has always been a season of ‘chasing shadows’ for the black shirts, 9 wins, one draw and 5 losses has seen them oscillate between 5th and 8th through out the season. Their most notable wins coming against Strathmore and Homeboyz on match day 5 and 12 respectively.
Next four matches : Mean Machine (h), KCB (a), Strathmore (h), Nondies (a).
From their 20 point pot, Kulabu should scoop 10 sure points off Mean Machine and Nondies. The fixtures against KCB and Strathmore will be finals in every sense of the word.
We have already touched on these matches that will be return fixtures, Mwamba lost the first leg to KCB 27-19 on match day 8, while winning the first against Strathmore, on match day 5. Whenever they have their sevens stars available, the black shirts are always a formidable side.
For these two fixtures, they will most probably be with their stars for the KCB match on 2nd April. That however is a big maybe, seeing as the sevens team will be probably be jetting out to Hong Kong the very next day. They will definitely miss them for the Strathmore game on the 18th of April, with the sevens team in Hong Kong.
From the 10 points in these two, I think the black shirts will pick a losing bonus from both to take their season total to 58 points.
If they are however to win all their remaining fixtures with bonuses, that takes them to 66 points. That will then make for a very interesting finish to the season, where aggregate points will come into play with a possible 3 sides tied on 66 points.
So from the above permutations, the Kenya cup table will look something like this at the end of match day 19 :
1. Impala – 79.
2. Kenya Harlequin – 75.
3. Nakuru – 73.
4. KCB – 71.
5. Kabras – 67.
6. Homeboyz – 66.
7. Strathmore – 63.
8. Mwamba – 58.
Here is where it gets interesting, I am made to understand that the play off places and opponents will be decided using the pools (Remember those ones? Yes you didn’t think they would be back, did you?). With the top two from each pool earning a home semi final, with number 2 from Pool A, playing number 3 from Pool B and vice versa.
From the above table, KCB top Pool A, with Impala top of Pool B, these two, from the above ‘theory’ qualify directly to the semis. Then Quins play Strathmore with Homeboyz playing Nakuru.
Whether the above are just bar rumours or the truth is anyone’s guess, as I am yet to see the revised Kenya cup rules.
My two cents ends here, feel free to share your predictions/and sights from your crystal ball. I have just given my head to head predictions for the next 4 weeks, haven’t I?