Women Premier League’s (WPL) 2018 season kicks off this weekend, with a unified format of play unlike in the previous seasons where the league was zoned.
Sixteen teams will battle it out for the bragging rights to the league after Palos Ladies who had earlier on announced their dissolution made a return. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has given each club a sum of Sh750,000 for logistics, specifically transport to honour fixtures.
Defending champions Vihiga Queens open their title defence at home as they host Eldoret Falcons at Mumias Complex. After thrashing two-time champions Thika Queens to clinch the 2017 title, coach Alex Alumira’s charges will be the team to beat in the new format of play.
The Vihiga County-sponsored outfit retained their title-winning squad of last season, with striker Cynthia Shilwatso the only possible missing link.
The Under 20 Starlet has been in Sweden on trials with top-flight side Hammarby and was scheduled to return to the country on Friday.
“Shilwatso’s absence, if Hammarby sign her, will not be felt as we were used to playing without her while she was in school. My squad is intact. We are working on retaining the trophy, which will not be easy since every team will be looking to beat the champions,” said Alumira.
The champions have also added to their striking force, that is lead by lethal striker Terry Engesha, signing two youngsters Sylvia Mbango from Butere Girls and Kobala’s Moureen Ogola.
Last season, Vihiga scored 44 goals conceding seven times all season with Engesha who joined mid season scoring 17 times.
On their part, runners up Thika Queens start their title quest away in Mumias as Wadadia host the two-time champions in match one of the Saturday’s double header.
The side will be buoyed by their new signing in diminutive forward Mwanahalima Adam who joins the club from coastal outfit Mombasa Olympic.
Promoted side Gaspo Women will be up against another coastal outfit Spedag, at Camp Toyoyo grounds, in their first match of the season after making a return in the top flight.
In other matches of the first round of the season, experienced side Makolanders will be hosted by another Nairobi team Kayole Starlets in the first match of a Camp Toyoyo double header. Baringo starlets welcome Mathare United Women to Eldamaravine Stadium.
On Sunday, four fixtures are in the offing across the country. Soccer Queens host Oserian Ladies at Camp Toyoyo while Mombasa Olympic play newbies Trans-Nzoia Falcons at Mbaraki. Kakamega Leeds (formerly Vihiga Leeds) welcome Thika Queens to Bukhungu Stadium while Palos Ladies travel to Mumias for a clash with Wadadia.