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Champion Dylen Kerr @KPL
Champion Dylen Kerr @KPL

2017 season thoughts of SPL coaches

The Kenyan Premier League gives, below, the thoughts of all the 18 coaches on the recently concluded 2017 SportPesa Premier League.

Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr: “I am very grateful to the players and everyone for this achievement. Since I joined the club, it has been continuous hard work and good discipline and the results are here with us today. We deserve to win this championship. I had never stepped in Kenya before but I have come to love everything about the country. I now know every street in town (Nairobi) and I can tell you that I am here to stay. I need two strikers, one defensive midfielder, one attacking midfielder, a winger and a right-back. There are players the management and I have already identified and it's a matter of engaging their clubs. We don’t just want to dominate in Kenya, we want to compete in Africa and will accolades at that level too.”

Chemelil Sugar coach Abdalla Juma: “I must commend my players. The determination they have displayed throughout the season, even after our sponsors encountered financial difficulty midseason was very encouraging. I am happy that we have remained in this league despite the challenges we faced especially in the middle of the season and I am confident that things will improve come next season. We will sign a few attacking players before next season. We have already identified some of them from schools like Kakamega High School and Chemase Secondary school who I believe will enable us perform better next season.”

Nzoia Sugar coach Bernard Mwalala: “I have no regrets at all. This was my first season in the top flight and I came in with young, inexperienced players. Most of them had never played at this level so I believe they did very well. We also had a lean squad and we really felt it during the second leg when we had about five key players nursing injuries. This has been a learning experience and next season I know that we shall perform better because we will bring in a good number of experienced players.”

Western Stima coach Richard Makumi: “I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that we are relegated. I feel particularly sad for the players because they gave everything to ensure that we remain in the Premier League. I was brought in to help the team survive but it was too late. Remember that before I joined the team, they had started the season quite late, and had to play several catch up matches. They lost several of those matches and by the time I was coming in, the players were very discouraged and could not conjure up the right results. I, however, commend them for their determination, and my assistant Henry Omino for standing with the team even in those tough times.”

Nakumatt coach Anthony Mwangi: “I think everyone knows that our club has dealt with the worst financial crisis since the club was formed. This is the major thing that affected our performance. If we would have had players training regularly and being well motivated like in previous years, I know that we could have finished in the top three positions. And I mean it. We have better quality players than many of the teams that have finished above us in the league and that is a fact. We even had our striker contending for the Golden Boot. But when players are not motivated it becomes difficult to achieve results from them. Everyone from the players to the technical bench had to push themselves to do their job, but at least things are now looking up. Maybe next season things will return to normal and if that happens I know that we shall finish in the top half of the table and perhaps even challenge for top honours.”

Zoo Kericho coach Sammy Okoth:” A poor start to the season ended up costing us in the end. We lost about six games consecutively at the start of the season, and building back the confidence in the payers was a difficult thing that took a long while. Towards the second leg the payers picked up and we got some good results here and there, but we weren’t consistent and we found ourselves battling relegation. We have however learned important lessons and I believe that we shall perform better next season. Remember this was our first outing in the Premiership. It was a learning process and we have learned plenty.”

Sony Sugar coach Salim Babu: “Had it not been for poor officiating in some of our games, I believe that we could have finished at a better position. All in all I thank God for our 11th place finish, at least we didn’t have to fight relegation.Our best achievement as a club is reaching the semi-finals of the GOtv Shield, which I believe we could have won. But that is behind us now and were are going to take a break before embarking on serious preparations for the new season. We are a championship outfit and we should show it.”

Kakamega Homeboyz coach Mike Mururi: “Tthe best thing about this team is that we have been getting better every season. Last year we finished eighth and this year we have gotten to fifth position. The boys have done that despite harsh financial challenge because as you know our club doesn’t have the privilege of a financial sponsor. Right now I hope that we shall retain majority of the squad and that the players will extend their determination over to next season so that we can perform even better. All things going well, I am seeing a top three finish, perhaps even the big one, who knows.”

Kariobangi Sharks coach William Muluya: “To finish third in our first season at the top is not something we expected especially because we took long to settle in the Premier League. But after midseason I began to believe that we could finish in a good position based on the commitment from players and our quality. I am happy that most of the players we signed thinking they were too young from the top flight and would therefore act as fringe players surprised us by securing positions in the team ahead of some experienced guys. That is a sign of growth and is very encouraging. Apart from the league, we have produced the best scorer in the league (Masoud Juma) and we also made it to the finals of the GOtv Shield so I can only thank God for giving us a good season despite many writing us off. We are here on merit and we have shown it.

Muhoroni Youth coach Jeff Odongo: “This has been a tough season for everyone in the Muhoroni Youth fraternity. Sugar cane production was very low and that meant that our sponsors could not honour their financial part of the bargain. Their own employees weren’t getting paid, so you can imagine how much our players have suffered. Playing on an empty stomach is tough. What worries me is that the situation hasn’t changed, and that leaves this club with many uncertainties even as we head to the National Super League. Even in the lower tier you need money in order to compete favourably.We can only remain hopeful that things will change and that the players will not run away from the club otherwise bouncing back up will be a big challenge.”

Mathare United assistant coach Salim Ali: “People don’t realise that Mathare United underwent a complete transformation in the course of the season. We started very, very badly but see how we ended. Towards the end of the season we collected wins over teams that I never even imagined we could beat considering our early situation. That is a sign of growth. It is important to note that we had the youngest quad in the league, and only in the second leg did we bring in some experience. Now that our survival is guaranteed, we shall embark on a recruitment process to ensure that we have a balanced squad made up of experienced players as well as some talented young ones. But our policy to develop youth will continue. That is the DNA of Mathare.”

AFC Leopards coach Robert Matano: “I re-joined Ingwe when the team was disorganized. Players never used to come to training, but I put the house in order and things changed. Nobody expected us to win a trophy, or to finish in the top 10. They say I am a disciplinarian but I am also a trained psychologist and a motivator. I like to uplift players. That is why you can see some players in my team performing way better than they did in the first leg. It is only because they are better motivated and better guided. Discipline is key in any club. I am headed for Uganda to search for players who can conform to my principles. AFC must become great again and it can, I tell you.”

Sofapaka coach Sam Ssimbwa: “We have surpassed expectation. From fighting relegation last season to finishing second this year is something I consider an achievement and I have my players to thank for that. Our next target is obviously to win the SPL trophy next season, but that is easy to say and hard to do. First is to get high quality players who can compete against those in Gor Mahia. We also want to be dominant in this league. We have won it before, so that is not something new to us. Our midseason signings did it for me. I am particularly impressed with striker Umaru Kasumba. The boy came in June but scored more goals than some strikers who played for their clubs since the beginning of the season. I don’t wish for him to go to any other Kenyan team. If he has to go, I pray that he joins a foreign club and not play locally here. We will do everything to hold on to him. That is a special player.”

Posta Rangers coach Sammy “Pamzo” Omolo: “I have learned a lot this season. We had a very good opportunity to win the league but we blew things off in midseason. I have already identified the problem and you should expect a different Posta Rangers next season. Lack of goals has been our problem all season, although I am proud that our defence has been one of the best in the league. We belong in the top five of this league. We will be back next season hungry, stronger.”

Thika United Nicholas Muyoti: “I must appreciate the work the boys have done despite coming under immense pressure in the second half of the season. I don’t wish to speak much because I understand there are play-offs that will determine our fate in relegation, but whatever happens, I will forever remain grateful for the input of my young squad. They put in a fight.”

Bandari coach Paul Nkata: “This season we didn’t perform anywhere near well enough. We are disappointed. It is a season to forget in a hurry. We achieved none of our targets and most of our new signings that had so much promise did not impress. We had problems with striking, for which we shall sign four new attackers, two attacking midfielders and two good wingers. The other departments don’t need any modifications.”

Ulinzi Stars coach Benjamin Nyangweso: “It is quite sad and disappointing that we did not clinch the title. That was our goal when the season begun. Inconsistency was a problem for us, and I also think we didn’t have a very good start to the season. But the quality of the squad was there. Football is sometimes cruel and hard to understand but we are soldiers and we will come back fighting next season.”

Tusker assistant coach Francis Baraza: “We were the defending champions this past season but we didn’t have a good run. This was because of the injuries we had on key players like Allan Wanga and also the fact that some dependable players lost their form in the course of the season. These are normal things in football but I can assure you that things will change next season. We shall not sign many players, but we shall bolster our midfield and attack to ensure that we are better prepared come next season. Teams have really improved and you can longer talk about the big clubs. You saw the so called small teams like Sharks, Stima Nakumatt giving the big boys a run for their money. No team is easy to play anymore.”







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