Kenyan football legend Dennis Oliech is of the opinion that Football Kenya Federation (FKF) erred in their decision to award Gor Mahia FC the 2018/2019 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) title.
Oliech believes that Tusker should have walked away with league because the Brewers were ahead of their opponents when the first half of the season came to a close at which time Gor Mahia had not completed their matches due to international engagement.
“According to me, Tusker would have bagged the title if the mid-season table were to be used though they had played 16 matches while Gor had played 13. The matches Gor had in hand were played when the second leg started and that’s why it is difficult to decide when the season was midway.”
With all the teams having played their 16 matches, Tusker finished second in the league on 34 points behind eventual winners Gor Mahia who wrapped up the competition with 39 points. Kakamega Homeboyz, whose owner Cleophas Shimanyula was equally opposed to the decision to declare Gor champions, were third on 33 points.
Shimanyula went ahead and accused FKF president Nick Mwendwa of hurrying to cancel the league in order to save Kariobangi Sharks (a team he owns) from relegation.
“Mwendwa should have just told us he is trying to protect Kariobangi Sharks from relegation because he must have known if the league was going to continue, the team would have been dropped from the KPL. I am 100% sure Kariobangi Sharks were going to be relegated. Mwendwa had to find a way to protect them,” said an enraged Shimanyula.
FKF’s decision to declare Gor Mahia champions has brewed endless controversy with perceived title contenders terming it as biased.
Mwendwa has, however, defended himself against the accusations, saying that he was guided by Rule 188.8.131.52 of the Rules and Regulations Governing Kenyan Football.
The rule states thus: “Where the league format due to circumstances of force majeure fails to be completed within the season, the league winner shall be determined as follows; Where all the Clubs in the league have completed the first round fixture but less than 75% league games have been played, the table standings at the end of the first round shall be considered as the final table standing of the league.”
He further said that the federation had to conform to the directives put in place by government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“The extra ordinary step has been reluctantly arrived at, in an effort aimed at safeguarding the well-being, safety and good health of the thousands of football players, Technical Bench members, fans and the general Kenyan public.”
A statement delivered to newsrooms on April 30 by FKF communications office through Kenn Okaka further explained the need to bring the competitions to a halt.
“Following the Covid -19 situation in Kenya and the recent public health regulations announced by the Government, including the extension of the ongoing curfew and cessation to May 16, 2020, banning of all public gatherings of more than 15 individuals and the indefinite closure of all stadiums has made it untenable to conclude the 2019/2020 league season in time for the kickoff of the 2020/2021 season.”
The federation pointed out that it was under instructions to release the names of local teams that would represent the country in the Champions League and the Caf Confederations Cup.
“Moreover, the FKF is in receipt of communication from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) requesting the federation to furnish CAF with the status of the Kenyan leagues and strategies the federation intends to apply to finalize the leagues, which have remained suspended since March 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Oliech returned to the Kenya Premier League 15 years after featuring for Mathare United, joining Gor Mahia on January 2, 2019, aged 33.
He officially announced his retirement from football on 19/02/2020 after failing to secure deals with Wazito and Bandari as he had hoped following his release from Gor Mahia where he had penned a deal in which he would earn a whopping Sh350,000 a month, with his signing fee reportedly being worth more than Sh3 million.