Jamees Magayi and Viden Ochieng
The mid-season player transfer window of any league is designed to offer teams opportunities to make slight additions for the remaining halfway journey.
However, the June window in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) displayed clear desperation by struggling clubs, six of which signed players in double digits. Moneyless Thika United lost all their gems and are potential participants in second tier National Super League despite drafting 19 rookies in place of their departed stars.
Thika is followed by Chemelil Sugar and Wazito who both drafted in 16. Sony Sugar signed 13 while Sofapaka and AFC Leopards signed 10 each. Tellingly, the three clubs with most mid season signings are potential relegation candidates.
After spending close to a decade in Thika, former skipper Dennis Odhiambo finally jumped ship to Sofapaka, setting the tone for Saad Musa, Christopher Oruchum, Said Tsuma and Eugene Mukangula to join Leopards. The quintet was credited with keeping Thika afloat and their departures, especially Odhiambo who turned down several offers over the years locally to stay at Thika, spells doom.
Thika have struggled to pay salaries since Brookside Dairies curtailed their financial support to the team. Their new signings as well as remnants from the past harbour little hopes of financial benefit and only hang on shining and eventually attaining rewarding moves to other clubs.
“I could not turn down the opportunity to play for a Premier League club as it could open other doors for me. I have waited for a while to get a team and now this will do even though there is little financial reward. I just hope to do well and get a better club,” said one of Thika’s new signings who requested anonymity.
Chemelil equally lost their luminaries but are lucky to have signed experienced names some of whom are in the sunset of their careers.
Those who parted ways with the outfit include John Waw and Collins Neto who have since joined Sony Sugar as well as Ken Odhiambo and Faraj Ominde who signed for Tusker. Kevin Mutotsi and John Kuol decamped to Kariobangi Sharks. Yusuf Onyango, Benjamin Oketch found new homes in Kakamega Homeboyz as Philip Muchuma Vihiga United.
Up to the midway point, Pistone Mutamba, Joe Waithika and Haron Nyakan were the luminaries at Wazito but have also decamped and it remains to be seen if the new additions will help Frank Ouna’s survival quest as his side sit bottom of the 18-team log with 13 games left.