In recent times there is no greater rivalry in the premier league than the one that the Co-op Bank Spartans and KPA share.
This year, the outcome of each of the two regular season games between these teams could be extremely significant, though KPA coach Fredrick Odhiambo thinks otherwise.
We are just focused on winning our regular games one at a time, playoffs is a different ball game and we will worry about that as the season winds down.
Let’s take a closer look at these rivals, an updated injury report, some story-lines and players to keep an eye on, a prediction on the outcome and more.
Fredrick Odongo is the only Spartans player who will not be up for selection, he was ejected during their last league game against Lions. Allan Ouma is back in training after missing three games due to injury. KPA has no injury worries or suspended players.
If Allan is fit to play, will he give those kind of performances that saw Spartans beat KPA during the regular season in 2014? Spartans won the league four years straight thanks to their great team work and defensive approach. But that hasn’t been working well lately, they need to score too. There poor offense showed against Lions, they scored 34 points.
Titus Musembi, Joseph Ondinyo, Ali Salim, Brian Busu and James Mwangi MUST show up to set the tone for head coach Carey Odhiambo. When Titus, Khaemba and James are aggressive and actively looking to score, Spartans are nearly unbeatable. But the three have been cold when it matters.
The defending champions lost at home to USIU Tigers last weekend but coach Fredrick is not a worried man.
This is definitely a grudge match but we are under no pressure even after losing to USIU, all we need to do is be clinical on offense, he said.
In their last three games KPA lost to Nakuru Club away, struggled against Nairobi Aviation in Nairobi and lost to USIU at home. Floor general Athiey Lwal will definitely stand out and cause all sorts of match-up problems for Spartans, honestly, the Spartans don’t have a viable solution to stifle his effectiveness. If KPA’s four-pronged attack of Victor Bosire, Valentine Nyakinda, Tobias Onyango and Lwal at the guard spot clicks it will open up the paint for Martin Kitongo and Arou Ramadhan to operate.
As usual, expect an epic game, It doesn’t matter that both teams are banged up and limping into this contest.
This two teams haven’t been dominant this season as we expected. After Spartans won the two regular season games in 2014, KPA had the last laugh in the playoffs, they were unstoppable on their way to lifting the title. Inspired by Ariel Okall on offense KPA put up the most dominant series in a long time.
Can Spartans dust themselves?
At this point, it feels as if the Spartans are out for blood. They’re looking to avenge the gut-wrenching playoffs loss from a year ago. I expect James to play at an elite level (Like the 2013 MVP I used to know). Titus will also be the catalyst for success as Spartans’ Swiss Army knife. Anything short of that will be inviting trouble.
More critical than anything, though, will be the performance of the Spartans’ second unit. If guys like Joseph Khaemba, Areba, Toni, Job Byron, Evans Ochieng and Mark Mayen execute, depth will override KPA’s stars.
These two teams match up extremely well and often wind up going back and forth trying to outdo the other throughout the course of the game. With that said, I am giving the edge to KPA. They are the champions and Spartans have’t improved much from the last time this two teams met.
Date: August 2.
Time: 4 pm.