Kenyan Premier League leaders Tusker FC will be hoping they can take a giant step towards ending a 23-year wait for the GOtv Shield title when they battle KCB in the first semifinal of this year's competition.
The two sides clash at the Afraha Stadium on Saturday (Oct. 1) at 1pm with a rate spot in the final available before Ulinzi Stars take on Kariobangi Sharks in the other semifinal at 3:30pm.
A league and cup double remains priority for the Brewers who are four points clear in the race for the league title and have not won the Shield since their 1993 triumph when the team was referred to as Kenya Breweries while the tournament was known as the President’s Cup.
They have tried in futility in the years that followed to quench that thirst, coming close in 2005 but they were stunned 2-1 by World Hope in the final.
There is a feel-good atmosphere at the Ruaraka-based club that their wait for a fourth Shield title may be over. They beat Posta Rangers 2-1 in the quarter-final this past Wednesday to set up a last four date with second tier side KCB.
The Bankers, relegated from the topflight last season, got one over a top tier side in the last 16 as well as the quarters, beating Thika United 1-0 before edging high-flying Western Stima 4-3 on post match penalties following a barren stalemate in normal time.
Despite their giant-killing run, they go into this battle as the underdogs not just because of their second tier status but their past record against the Brewers has been discouraging. In their 14 meetings before their relegation, KCB celebrated only a single win, losing 8 with five matches drawn. However, that victory came as recent as last season where they beat the Brewers 1-0 at home, then fought for a 1-1 draw in the return leg in August 2015.
The match will not be a walk in the park for the KPL leaders and the Bankers, who are unbeaten in their last 12 games in all competitions, are likely to give them a run for their money. With the international break coming after the semis, the Brewers can afford to field their strongest team as they will have enough time to recover before the league resumes. That could be bad news for the Bankers.
A Tusker win at half and full time will be a safe bet but expect KCB to sneak in a goal. For those who don't like direct outcomes, an Over 2.5 is safe enough with the opening half likely to provide more goals.
Tusker (KPL) - L W D W D W
KCB (NSL)- W W W D D
Tusker have won 8 to Posta's 1 in their previous 14 league meetings with the remaining 5 matches drawn.
Last Meeting (August 2011): Tusker 1-1 KCB
Correct Score Prediction: 3-1 to Tusker at FT
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