The Kenyan Premier League pre-season transfer window slammed shut on Sunday (Jan. 31) at midnight with 441 transfers/contract renewals being made across the 16 topflight clubs.
Newcomers, Kakamega Homeboyz and Posta Rangers led the way in terms of players who either came in or renewed their contracts with both sides hitting the figure 30, while no club saw more exits than Sofapaka (21).
While most of the transfers were routine, there were a few standout, almost gobsmacking ones. Here are our Top 5 picks:
Clifton Miheso to AFC Leopards
This one shocked most people, more so AFC Leopards fans. Make no mistake. This deal would not have happened had Ingwe not hit the Sportpesa jackpot. Miheso sustained a knee injury in July last year which almost paid put to his chances of flourishing at Finnish side Vaasan Palloseura (VPS). The left-footed 22-year-old has been in the country for some time now and featured for Kenya during the CECAFA Championships in Ethiopia. His contract at VPS was due to end in March this year but no one would have predicted the former Thika United and Sofapaka man would make a switch to the Kenyan Premier League. Not so soon. Another jackpot for the Leopards.
Mike Khamati to Tusker FC
Tusker FC scored 46 league goals last season but almost half of them (22) were banged in by Jesse Were. The lanky forward has since left for Zambian champions Zesco United and you wouldn’t be thinking ‘inside the box’ should you suggest that the club has lost that many goals as well. In Were’s absence, Tusker struggled for goals and that you shouldn’t expect to change if you look at the men Paul Nkata has brought in. Noah Wafula was the club’s second ‘topscorer’ last season but only had four goals albeit from a wide position. The ‘marquee’ face expected to fill in Were’s boots is Mike Khamati who only scored three goals for AFC Leopards from a center-forward position. The likes of Luis Misiko and Shafik Batambuze have the abilities to chip in with goals from midfield but more attention will be on Khamati and whether he’ll rediscover the form that made Ingwe sing him from Administration Police in June 2013.
Jackson Saleh to Gor Mahia
AFC Leopards have lost almost an entire team this transfer window but the exit of captain Jackson Saleh to Gor Mahia left many stunned. The two sides are not supposed to share a meal on one table, let alone exchange players but Gor Mahia, evidently the big brother over the last few seasons thanks to success on the pitch, seem to have had the muscle to wrestle the captain from their enemy’s clutches. Saleh was one of Leopards’ stars last season, his composure as the last man in the back four helping Leopards concede no more than the 33 they did. His experience and self-effacing nature will be dearly missed at the den and highly welcome at Kogalo who now have a selection headache as to who between Saleh, Musa Mohammed and to some extent, Luke Ochieng’ to chose from.
Atudo to Posta Rangers
If there’s one player who has been overlooked by Harambee Stars national team player selection committee (oh, there isn’t one), then Jockins Atudo stands tall (almost literally). The former Sony Sugar FC man deserves a mention when naming the top 5 center-halves in the country but despite showing he can still add more caps to the 32 he has for the national team, he was gravely overlooked in the year past. Last season, he marshaled a Tusker FC defence that conceded 28 goals, the fourth joint lowest in the league. No one expected him to leave the Brewers, well, except Paul Nkata who somehow allowed promoted side Posta Rangers to sign the Homabay-born 30-year-old, on a free!
Ismail Dunga, Kevin Kimani to Nowhere
These two players had contrasting seasons with their respective clubs. Dunga was largely an unused substitute at then Stanley Okumbi’s Mathare United while Kimani was an ever-present figure at Tusker FC. As the clock tick-tocked so softly you could barely hear it on Sunday night, so did the duo’s Kenyan Premier League careers as they both failed to land a club. There are still openings in the lower league tier and the duo have the quality to, for example, sign for behemoths like Nakumatt FC.
Honourable mentions: Jacques Tuyisenge to Gor Mahia – that money!, Bernard Mang’oli and Edwin Wafula to Bandari FC, Eric Johanna (staying at Mathare), Edgar Ochieng’ to Sofapaka, Ebrimah Sanneh to nowhere, Lwamba Bebeto to Muhoroni Youth
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