As the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) kicks off this weekend, eyes will be on four coaches with focus on the expectations around them in the new campaign.
Bernard Mwalala (Bandari)
Mwalala led Bandari to a second place finish last season barely three months into the job after joining the side in July from Nzoia Sugar. In 13 matches, he registered eight wins that included breaking champions Gor Mahia’s unbeaten run with a famous 2-1 win on August 7, three draws and a single defeat to Wazito. He has made it clear to challenge for the title this campaign.
After snapping Nzoia Sugar duo of goalkeeper Mustapha Oduor and defender Brian Otieno, the former Kenyan international striker will be banking on the stars that helped the Dockers finish runners-up among them last season’s best goalkeeper Farouk Shikalo and skipper Felly Mulumba.
Frank Ouna (KCB)
After guiding Wazito to their maiden top flight appearance, Ouna managed eight wins, seven draws and a whooping 19 defeats in 34 rounds that saw the debutants relegated.
The former Sofapaka and Gor Mahia trainer however switched clubs joining newly promoted Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). Alongside former AFC Leopards and Nakuru AllStars coach Ezekiel Akwana, Ouna has his targets cut out, to ensure the bankers do not suffer yet another set back of returning to the National Super League (NSL), a league they featured in for the past three seasons.
Ouna has brought on board 13 new players he hopes will help achieve the club’s initial objectives, “for a team that has just been promoted, our first priority this season is to remain in the league,” he said.
Hassan Oktay (Gor Mahia)
The Turkish-Cypriot made his touchline bow for Gor Mahia in the Caf Champions League preliminary round return leg away to Malawi giants Nyasa Big Bullets on Wednesday as the record Kenyan champions progressed to the first round of the first tier inter-club competition.
Oktay, who arrived in the country last Sunday to replace Briton Dylan Kerr, outlined to his players what he expects of them under his stewardship.
He joins a side that has won two back-to-back titles and are hungry for a third one on the trot. Brazillian Jose Marcelo alias Ze Maria was the last coach Gor hired with targets of achieving a treble, he failed terribly and what followed was resignation July last year.
Oktay, formerly at Thai side Police United, finds himself in a similar situation with Gor fans optimistic of a hat-trick of titles like in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Robert Matano (Tusker)
The veteran tactician was crowned coach of the month of September and October mid this week and outlined his targets for the new season. Matano re-joined Tusker in April and helped the brewers recover from a disastrous start to third spot.
He will be out to reclaim lost glory having won the league with Tusker in 2012, if his marquee signings are anything to go by.