Champions-elect Kenya Police on Sunday played out a thrilling 1-1 draw with arch-rivals Butali Sugar Warriors in their final Kenya Hockey Union men’s Premier League match at the City Park Stadium, Nairobi.
Police had taken the lead through their lethal striker Amos Barkbir in the 28th minute and looked as if they would complete the double over their nemesis until Seth Oburu restored parity for the Kisumu-based club a minute to the end and the clubs shared the spoils.
Despite the match having little significance in the league after Kenya Police secured the title last month, the two sides still produced a cracking contest in the afternoon sunshine at City Park.
The result saw Kenya Police finish top of the standings with 77 points, seven ahead of Butali who secured second placed and the final slot to the 2018 Africa Cup for Club Champions later this year.
Police as well as women’s champions Telkom will be coroneted on Sunday when the 2017/2018 season comes to a close.
Police coach Kenneth Kaunda said the late goal denied them the chance to complete the double over their main rivals but was otherwise pleased with the result.
“I think we thought we had won the match and relaxed a bit allowing them (Butali) to snatch a point. But it does not matter because we have had a very good season and I am glad we ended it without losing,” Kaunda told Nation Sport.
Kaunda started with a strong side that saw top scorer Barkbir partner Calvins Kanu upfront and the duo proved to be a menace to the Butali defence.
After 10 minutes, Kanu carved out his side’s best chance as he weaved past two Butali players and his first time back hand shot just missed the goal by inches.
Butali, formerly known as Kisumu Simba, rallied to draw level by winning two short corners both of which were not converted as the opening quarter ended goalless.
Both teams wasted chances at the beginning of the second quarter before Police took the lead two minutes to halftime as Barkibir fired past Butali goalkeeper Joseph Osino for his 19th goal of the season.
Police wasted a couple of more chances in the third quarter with the rhythm of play disrupted by the revolving substitutions. Butali rescued a draw as Oburu got into behind Police defenders to divert the ball past Martin Agesa.
Butali team manager Kamal Sembi warned Police that his side would return stronger next season.
“We were not very consistent this season as compared to Police and that proved to be the difference. Next season we will come better prepared,” he said.