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Midweek clash like no other as the top clubs battle to earn CAF Champions League slot

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 00:00 | By
Birgen Brian of Ulinzi Stars FC (centre) attempts to dribble past Tusker FC duo of Eric Zakayo and Hashim Sempala during their first leg clash of Betking Premier League. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

KCB and Tusker are on tenterhooks as far as chances of representing Kenya in the 2022 CAF Champions League are concerned.

The team to carry the country’s banner in the lucrative championship shall be known by midnight today, hours after the 22nd round of Betking Premier League mid-week matches have been played. 

While it was earlier wrongly assumed that Tusker had taken the slot due to their table topping status ahead of the June 30 deadline Football Kenya Federation had been given by CAF to submit the name of Kenyan envoys in the event, KCB, who are second to Tusker in the top-tier league, came to realise that they have at least 12 hours to to meet their dream of dining with the big boys on the continental front. 

FKF, through a statement, had earlier announced that it was under intense pressure from CAF to submit the name of Kenya’s representative in the continental event by June 30 after the calendar of most African leagues were disrupted by Covid-19 pandemic.     

For Tusker and KCB who are separated by a point in the league,  destiny is in their hands as they face dicey fixtures today, both of which have all the ingredients of thrillers. 

While Tusker face battle-hardened Ulinzi Stars at Afraha stadium from 3.15pm, KCB shall take the war to Nzoia Sugar at Ruaraka grounds at the same time in two of the eight fixtures on the card.

Change fortunes

In the meantime, another mouth-watering clash will pit defending champions Gor Mahia and Bandari at Utalii grounds from 3pm.

Bandari, who lost to K’Ogalo in the first leg encounter,  have not been performing particularly well in the league but the team’s technical director Twahir Muhiddin said this is a chance to seek change of fortunes.

“If you look at our team, it is determined to overturn the floundering fortunes.

The players want to prove that a mere slip does not necessarily mean that we have fallen altogether and shall not pick up your pieces.

From what I have seen in training, we have improved especially in the area of finishing and it is up to the strikers to strive to translate chances into goals,” said Muhiddin.

On the other hand, Gor are expected to be vengeful after they lost 2-1 to Western Stima in a thrilling encounter last week.

Elsewhere at Thika Stadium, AFC Leopards, who were left purring after snatching a late winner against Wazito FC at Utalii grounds at the weekend, will be going for the jugular of Kariobangi Sharks.

Leopards, who are third in the league with 40 points, will be seeking to make the most with a full complement of players and a win will serve as a big morale boost ahead of the FKF Betway Cup against arch rivals Gor Mahia at Utalii ground this weekend.

“We remain upbeat ahead of the match. We were knocking on the door of the CAF slot but now that we were not successful, we have no choice but to win the league to make our fans happy,” said Ingwe official Tom Juma.

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