Tusker coach Robert Matano has predicted that the Kenyan Premier League title race will go down the wire despite his side’s latest stumble against Wazito last weekend.
While their title rivals Gor Mahia and Kakamega Homeboyz won in their respective opponents, 10-man brewers missed a chance to maintain a four-point gap on league leaders Gor (48 points) after drawing 1-1 with visiting Wazito.
Samuel Onyango scored a last-minute winner in Kericho as K’Ogalo twice came from behind to secure a 3-2 win against a stubborn Zoo.
On the other hand, Homeboyz leapfrogged Tusker into the second spot and remained four points shy of K’Ogalo with a 6-0 thrashing of Chemelil Sugar.
Fourth-placed KCB (41), Ulinzi Stars (39) and AFC Leopards (37) also downed Posta Rangers 3-1, Kisumu All Stars 3-2 and Sofapaka 2-1 respectively to technically remain in contention.
Chrispinus Onyango had given the 11-time league champions the lead midway in the second half only for Paul Kiongera to come off the bench and grab a late equaliser.
The goal came moments after Sammy Meja was sent off for a second yellow. [Rodgers Eshitemi]
However, with less than twelve fixtures to go and Tusker still having a game in hand, Matano believes the title race will not be decided until the final match of the season.
Interestingly, his side, which is still enjoying a 14-game unbeaten run, is scheduled to clash with record champions Gor on-May 23-the final day of the campaign.
“There is no panic mode despite the Wazito draw because we still have twelve matches to go and we will continue fighting. Last minute mistake cost us the three points against Wazito but that’s the nature of the game,” said Matano.
“We are strongly still in the title race. I hope the race will go down the wire and with the way things are we have to fight until the end.
“The draw doesn’t mean that we have lost the title. This is not about mathematics, but football. Yes, we are still unbeaten but that doesn’t count, what we needed most in this game was the three points. It’s just disappointing the way we dropped the two points.”
And with the attitude in his team, Matano is confident the brewers will replicate their 2016 performance to end Gor’s dominance in the league this season.
“I’m 100 per cent we will do it again this season. The spirit is there and the blood is feeling the same, we have to move on and on. Football is a marathon game and not 100 metres dash. But in this situation, we have to persevere and fight,” said the two-time league winning coach.
Just like Matano, KCB coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno feels the title race is still far from over.
“Though we are still within our target, we are taking one game at a time. When the league started, no team had played its matches. So, the title can be won by the team which wins many of its matches and that’s exactly what we are trying to do,” said Otieno.