Who Will Lift The 2017 Kenya Cup?
Match number 102 of the 2016/17 season, by far the biggest one, is finally here with us and despite the side shows, it promises to be a clash of epic proportions.
On the afternoon of 22nd April 2017 at the KCB Ruaraka Sports club, the fate of two of the best sides in the land will be decided, when the Kenya cup defending champions Kabras Sugar RFC, take on the immediate former champions, KCB.
That these two have been the dominant forces in Kenyan rugby for the past three or so years, is clear for everyone to see and this latest match up promises to be a true thrill a minute, titanic encounter. Between them, one of these two has featured in the last two league and two cup finals, having played each other in one of each, this will be their third meet in a major final.
There has however never been this little to separate these two ever before.
When these two first met in the 2014 Kenya cup opener, at this same venue, the sugar millers fell to a spirited 13-3 result. They were to meet once again in the final where KCB claimed that season’s diadem courtesy of a 27-3 result.
They went on to meet 3 times after this in the league and once in the cup, with KCB claiming wins on 3 of those occasions, one ending in a draw. In all these matches one thing stands out, that the gap between Kabras and KCB has kept reducing, it is now at the point of non existence as evidenced by that 15 all draw in Kakamega.
Some argue that the tide has now tilted in the sugar millers’ favour and this final will be where it turns.
A lot has been made on ‘home ground advantage’ before this final, while KCB might enjoy a slight advantage, the den also holds a special place for the visitors. Despite drawing most of their players from these grounds, it was here that they made their Kenya cup debut in 2014. What better place to lift their second league title?
Kabras come into this one on the back of a 22-17 extra time victory over this season’s odd on favourites, Homeboyz RFC at the Jamuhuri Showground a fortnight ago. While on the other side of town, the Lions beat Quins 19-12, to make it here.
The sugar millers managed to once again overcome a shaky start to the season, like they did in the last, to qualify for the play offs and successfully steer their way to the final. KCB on their part, started off strongly, going on a 12 match unbeaten run before hitting a shaky patch but still managing to finish within the top two.
At the weekend however, all the above will play no role in determining who will lift the 2017 Kenya cup title.
On the patchy Ruaraka Sports club turf expect the two sides to play an almost similar brand of rugby, heavily dependent on the forwards. Though the Lions have slowly been veering off this style, it still is ingrained in their DNA.
Kabras do have the fire power and ‘finesse’to cause KCB all types of trouble both in the forwards and backs. The likes of Hillary Mwajilwa and Duncan Mwangi anchoring their set pieces, Fidel Oloo and Lekima Kuidraki leading the ball carriers, add the mercurial pairing of Jone Kubu and Philip Wokorach leading the style.
What Kabras can front, KCB seem to have a ready reply to, Curtis Lilako and Moses Amusala for the set piece, Davis Chenge and Andrew Amonde as the ball carriers, with Ken Moseti and Darwin Mukidza answering to the flair.
Their similarities do not only end at style of play, former team mates Curtis Olago and Anthony Ogot have also been employing a similar approach in terms of game management, saving their best for last. If you look at the recent big match ups these two have been involved in, you will notice that all those matches were won in the second half.
This has been down to how the two tacticians set up their match day 23s, with a host of talent to chose from the two have had the luxury of superior benches which they have put to very good use. At the weekend, it will be down to who can deploy his reserves at the right time.
With potential game changers Max Adaka, Dan Sikuta and Brian Tanga sitting on the Kabras bench and Martin Owila, Brian Omondi and Shaban Ahmed on the opposite end, the respective benches seem to have the answer to our question, who will lift the 2017 Kenya cup.
If the skies above the Thika super highway skies manage to hold, we will be in for a superb match up, if they however fail to, the degree of superb will be toned down a few notches with the battle for territory taking center stage. Either way, this one has no sign of being a boring match up.
Organizers have promised to put all their resources to make sure the den is fit for a final, and I am silently confident that those who will make their way to the den will not be disappointed, on the pitch or off it.
So let us meet at the Lion’s den bright and early as we crown the 2017 Kenya cup champion!