Big buzz as football season kicks off

The 2016 SportPesa Premier League kicks off on Saturday after a three-month recess.

Saturday February 13 2016

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fans sing praises for their respective teams along Moi Avenue, Nairobi on June 8, 2014 as they awaited the 'Mashemeji Derby'. The football season is back after a three-month recess as the 2016 SportPesa Premier League kicks off on Saturday. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE |

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fans sing praises for their respective teams along Moi Avenue, Nairobi on June 8, 2014 as they awaited the 'Mashemeji Derby'. The football season is back after a three-month recess as the 2016 SportPesa Premier League kicks off on Saturday. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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The football season is back after a three-month recess as the 2016 SportPesa Premier League kicks off at 2.00 pm on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of ardent fans will follow live non-stop action from the country’s top flight football competition played out in various stadiums across the nation for the next nine months.

The rest, commonly dubbed the “Sofaset branch” will - as has always been the case - follow the thrilling action on television, radio, and Internet.

“Supporters will enjoy improved standards of the game this time round. This happens every year.

We have also made plans, especially security wise, to ensure there is more hospitality within the stadiums. There will be a lot at stake. We all cannot wait to get started,” KPL’s CEO Jack Oguda told Daily Nation Sport.

TITLE FAVOURITES

Defending champions Mahia, the vastly improved Bandari, former winners Tusker and Ulinzi Stars are considered favourites to win this season’s league title though AFC Leopards’ fans may think otherwise.

The likes of Mathare United, now under the leadership of the respected and experienced duo Francis Kimanzi and Salim Ali, Thika United and Sofapaka are also expected to have a say in the title.

City Stars, Kakamega Homeboyz, Sony Sugar have been mooted by pundits as relegation material.

Having lost some of its big name talents notably Micheal Olunga, Jesse Were, John Baraza and Meddie Kagere for various reasons including greener pastures and retirement, a new crop of stars will have to step in.

Kenyan internationals Clifton Miheso (AFC Leopards), Jacob Keli and Francis Kahata (Gor Mahia) who are making a return after professional stints abroad, plus the likes of Kepha Aswani, (AFC Leopards) Felly Mulumba, Dan Sserunkuma, Bernard Mang’oli (Bandari), Karim Nziyigimana, Khalid Aucho (Gor Mahia) and youngsters Johanna Eric (Mathare United), Wafula Innocent (Gor Mahia), John Mark Makwatta (Ulinzi Stars) and Shafique Batambuze (Tusker) fall into this bracket.

Six matches are on the cards this weekend, save for ties involving Gor Mahia and Bandari who have been excused to feature in continental assignments.

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