Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches take a break this weekend as the Betway Cup enters Round 32 with 16 matches lined up across different venues.
The domestic cup was most recently referred to as the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Cup until gaming company Betway pumped Sh45 million to become the title sponsor for the next three seasons.
Started in 1956, the domestic cup has had different names along the way due to sponsorship reasons most notably FKF President’s Cup, Transparency Cup and was referred to as the Moi Golden Cup between 1986 and 2002.
Sixteen lower-tier sides that qualified from the preliminary round will face off with 16 KPL and NSL clubs. The winner of this year’s competition will take home Sh2 million, runners up pocket Sh1 million while the third-placed and fourth-placed teams get Sh750,000 and Sh500,000 respectively, the federation has announced.
The highlight of the cup games will be Sunday's double header at Kasarani. Third-tier side Kenpoly will host Kariobangi Sharks in an early kick off before reigning Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia take on Naivas, who play in the FKF Division One League.
Gor Mahia assistant coach Patrick Odhiambo is wary of the threat Naivas, who are fourth in the third-tier league, could pose but has revealed they will use fringe players for the encounter.
“It is not an easy match as many may think but we will give a chance to players who have not been featuring regularly in the first team. Our aim is to bag a double this season therefore we cannot afford to underrate Naivas,” Odhiambo told Nation Sport on Thursday.
Naivas is coached by former Tusker and Posta Rangers assistant coach George Maina. He expects a tough clash but says his lads are eager to prove their worth.
“The players love facing such big teams but they must be aware they are facing a team that is not just big locally but also continentally. I have seen their enthusiasm and dedication in training this week and I am convinced they will do their best,” said Maina.
Nine matches will be played on Saturday with the highlight being the early kick off between lower-tier side Jericho Revelation and National Super League (NSL) side Bidco United at Camp Toyoyo grounds.
Bidco coach Anthony Akhulia says his side is keen to do well in the domestic cup.
“This is a very important game for us and we have prepared very well for it. I have no major injury worries and will actually use some of the players that haven’t played regularly this season. It is a good platform for them to get in shape and also push the club to the next stage of the competition,” he said.
Bidco are second in the NSL and are pushing for promotion to the KPL next season. Jericho Revelation edged Nation FC in the preliminary round and coach Jairo Willis says his charges could cause an upset.
“This is a knockout competition and it really doesn’t matter which level our opponents play – my boys are very ready and looking forward to the challenge. We have strengthened the team and played good friendly matches ahead of this game. We will surprise Bidco United and we are confident that with the backing of our home fans, we will qualify for the next round,” he said.
The final of the Betway Cup will be played in May.
Jericho Revelation v Bidco United (Camp Toyoyo, 11 am)
Tandaza v Posta Rangers (Camp Toyoyo, 1:30 pm)
Balaji EPZ v Sofapaka (Camp Toyoyo, 4 pm)
Zetech Titans v FC Talanta (Ruiru Grounds, 3 pm)
SS Assad v Fortune Sacco (Ukunda Show Ground, 3 pm)
Nyabururu Sportiff v Kisumu Allstars (Gusii Stadium, 3 pm)
Egerton v Wazito (Afraha Stadium, 3 pm)
Flamingo v Migori Youth (Flamingo Grounds, Naivasha, 3 pm)
Transfoc v Ushuru (Kenyatta Stadium, Kitale, 3pm)
KSG Ogopa v Bandari (Machakos, 3 pm)
Naivas vs Gor Mahia (Kasarani, 3:30 pm)
Kenpoly v Kariobangi Sharks (Kasarani , 1 pm)
Keroka Technical v Vihiga United (Gusii Stadium, 1 pm)
Zoo Youth v KCB (Gusii Stadium, 3:30 pm)
Elim v AFC Leopards (Kenyatta Stadium, Kitale, 3 pm)
Luanda Villa v Ulinzi Stars (Mumias Complex, 3 pm)