Western Jaguars’ defeat of leaders Kenya Police over the weekend slowed down the law enforcers’ ambitions of clinching the Kenya Hockey Union men’s Premier League title race.
The 1-0 defeat away at the Kakamega High School grounds saw their lead at the top cut from 15 points to 10 points with six matches left. It was also their first loss of the season after 21 matches.
And with second-placed Butali Sugar Warriors having a game in hand over their arch-rivals, the deficit could come down to seven points.
While Police are still in pole position to clinch their first title since 2013, they have a tricky run-in as compared to Butali.
On Sunday, they take on third-placed Greensharks, who have proved tough to beat this season, and defeat in that game will further complicate matters for them.
Having won 20 out of 21 matches before Saturday’s loss to Jaguars, it therefore came as a surprise especially against a team battling the big drop.
Police coach Kenneth Kaunda has challenged his charges to maintain their focus and not ‘self-destruct’ at this crucial stage.
“Our mental shape will be tested over the coming matches and we need to be composed because we are still in pole position to clinch the title,” Kaunda said.
It was the first time this season that Police have failed to score in a match despite creating a host of chances. Butali collected six points to move one spot to second place with 51 points.
The Kisumu-based side claimed hard fought victories against champions Strathmore University Gladiators and USIU to leave Nairobi with six points. They will be hoping that Police falter in their coming matches so that the deficit can further be reduced.
“We battled hard to get the six points and we will continue wining our games and put pressure on Police and hopefully something will give, it’s not over yet,” Butali coach Godfrey Wakachunga said.
Sharks dropped to third spot despite their 2-1 win over Wazalendo which sees them move to 49 points.
USIU and Wazalendo round off the top five places. At the bottom, Jaguars’ impressive win moved them a point off the relegation zone. They are placed 13th with 21 points, one ahead of second-from-bottom KU Vultures.
In the women’s Premier League, Amira Sailors and Strathmore University Scorpions closed in on second place after wins in their respective matches.
Telkom and USIU, who were not in action this weekend, are on 45 points and 34 points respectively. Sailors and Scorpions are both tied on 33 points and occupy third and fourth place respectively.