As champions Kenya Police close in on their fourth title, former champions Nairobi Simba, Parklands and United States International University battle to avoid relegation as the men’s hockey Premier League reaches homestretch.
Most teams in the 12-team league are remaining with two matches each, but what is interesting is that five teams are still relegation candidates.
That former champions Nairobi Simba, who are placed seventh with 23 points with two matches to go, are not safe goes without saying.
Nairobi Simba face tough moments on Sunday when they take on Kenya Police, who are placed second in the league.
Parklands, who got a lifeline mid-week when they stunned Wazalendo 3-2 to climb one place to sixth with 26 points, seek another fairy-tale take results against three-time winners Strathmore Gladiators on Saturday.
It will be Parklands’ last match of the season and a point will be enough for them to secure survival.
USIU, who are ninth with 21 points and just a place above relegation zone, take on Greensharks on Sunday.
The students, who will then meet Nairobi Simba in their last match next weekend, must win their two matches to avoid the drop.
Nakuru, Kenya College of Accountancy-University (KCA-U) and Western Jaguars, who have 20, 19 and 18 points respectively, occupy the last three places in the top-flight league.
Police, the 2011, 2013 and 2017 champions, will look to complete the double on Nairobi Simba after they won 3-2 in a closely contested first leg duel.
“The battle is not yet won because our rivals Butali Sugar are still at the top,” said Police skipper Oliver Echenje.
“Nairobi Simba have always been a hard nut to crack and I am sure they will come hard on us, noting that a loss can have them relegated.”
Police will be without their injured attacking midfielder Titus Kimutai, who will be replaced by the equally good Govan Mbeki.
“We have beaten Police and we are going for revenge,” said Nairobi Simba team manager Kalpesh Solanki, who called for fair officiating in these last matches.
“I want Kenya Hockey Union to be extra vigilant since some these umpires are coming to matches with fixed mind. Some even chose matches that they will officiate in,” claimed Solanki.
Parklands team manager Ambi Amarjit said they are at full strength and would be seeking inspiration from their mid-week victory against Wazalendo.
“We have to win at all cost since any slip could see us relegated,” said Amarjit.
“The boys are up to the task and they know what the match means.”
After crushing Sliders 3-0, United States International University Spartans hope to uphold the momentum as they face Vikings in a women’s Premier League contest on Sunday.
Spartans are currently placed third with 16 points, while bottom-placed Vikings are still seeking their maiden win, even as the league nears completion.
Sliders hope to bounce back when they take on Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in another women’s tie on Saturday.