Charles Thuku @PeopleSports11
A litmus test awaits recently promoted Vihiga United and Wazito in their maiden appearance in the 2018 SportsPesa Premier League which kicks off on February 2.
Vihiga coach Edward Manoah will be renewing acquaintance with his former colleagues at the top-tier when he leads the team for a clash against relatively experienced Mathare United at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on February 3.
For Wazito under Frank Ouna, they will wait a little bit longer before tasting big-time action as they are lined up for a clash against Sony Sugar at either Thika sub county Stadium or Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 5.
In the meantime, the first Mashemeji Derby between perennial rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards will fall on January 28 at Moi International Sports Centre (MISC) Kasarani. K’ogalo and Ingwe will be playing the match by virtue of winning the 2017 SportPesa Premier League (SPL) and the Gotv Shield Cup respectively.
The match will be an ideal dress rehearsal for both teams ahead of the 2018 SPL which will start five days later. Further, the derby will also give an opportunity to Gor and AFC to test new signings before launching campaigns in their respective continental assignments.
While Gor are Kenya’s emissaries in the money-spinning Africa Champions League, Leopards are the country’s flag bearers in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup.
Amongst the two senior clubs, it is K’Ogalo who will be the busiest in the first week of the domestic football scene next year as after meeting Ingwe, they will only have five days to rest before opening their league title defence against Nakumatt in Kasarani.
In contrast, Leopards will rest for six days after the Mashemeji duel pending a league opening match against Posta Rangers at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on February 4. The league kick off is on February 2 between Ulinzi Stars and Zoo Kericho in Nakuru