Will Police ‘Saint Germain’ reap rewards for their big spending by winning the title this season?

©Kenya Police

FOOTBALL Will Police ‘Saint Germain’ reap rewards for their big spending by winning the title this season?

Mark Kinyanjui 12:26 - 26.08.2023

Kenya Police have spent big on alot of Kenyan Football's heavy hitters, will it deliver a maiden league title in May 2024?

After two months without action, the 2023/24 FKFPL season is set to kick off on Saturday, with teams setting out to achieve their respective targets with an eye on achieving them by the time the league culminates in May next year.

After securing an all-time best finish of third last season, finishing on 64 points and with the league’s best defensive and offensive record, Kenya Police coach Francis Baraza is the man on a mission to guide the side to a maiden FKFPL title this season.

They have certainly made statements in the transfer window to show their intent, with Kenyan international Kenneth Muguna and skilful attacking midfielder Tyson Otieno among the potent weapons added to their arsenal to help close the gap on Gor Mahia this season.

Police jetted off to Tanzania and then Rwanda to take part in pre-season friendly matches in order to get up to speed ahead of the new season.

The played against Singida Fountain Gate, Namungo and Rwanda’s Rayon Sports, where they were able to get positive results in the process and allow their new signings to blend with the core players Baraza has made key for his plans.

Transfers: Who came in and who departed?

Police have signed four new players to help them in their quest to help make their FKFPL title dream a reality this season.

The pick of the bunch is, of course, both Muguna and Tyson, who will add creativity and progressiveness on the ball to the course.

They have also added two South Sudanese footballers, defender Rashid Toha and former Gor Mahia forward Tito Okello to the ranks. Toha will add height and depth to the defence, while Okello is a different profile of striker to main man Elvis Rupia, who will give Baraza something different especially when attacking aerial balls.

Muguna is certainly the most transformative signing though, as his ability to progress the ball from deep in midfield could help lay a platform for other creative players like Tyson Otieno and Francis Kahata to get into areas where they can help contribute to the game in an attacking sense.

Police, meanwhile, let go of midfielder Kevin Mwaura, Kenyan international Clifton Miheso and striker Derrick Otanga who joining on a short-term contract in March this year.

Predicted finish

Kenya Police are one of five sides capable of winning the title by May next year. Their spending spree has reaped rewards, as they leaped from ninth place in their first season back in the topflight to third last season.

Pulse Sports predicts a serious assault on the title and potentially even win it, but given the nature of the rivals they are competing against, it could be a close battle which will culminate in the side finishing third yet again.

Player to look out for

Charles Ouma has risen through adversity to become a key player in Baraza’s set up. Despite their spending spree, Ouma, who played a key part in helping the side win promotion in the 2020/21 NSL season, has managed to keep players like Pattilah Omotto out of the side, and his performances even won him a call up to the Harambee Stars squad for their trip to Mauritius.

He is one to watch yet again, as his star continues to rise.

Star player

Without doubt, Elvis Machapo Rupia is the star of the show. The 28-year-old striker made history by becoming the first ever player to score 27 goals in a single FKFPL season in 2022-23.

Had there been an awarding ceremony last season, there is no doubt that Rupia would have won the Most Valuable Player gong because his contributions had a big effect on their impressive third-place finish.

With an even more exciting plethora of creative midfielders signed to compliment him, expect more goals to come from him in their quest to clinch a maiden title.

The coach

Francis Baraza is a highly knowledgeable and experienced tactician who has left a mark on Kenyan football.

He lifted the 2006 Premier League title with the now defunct Sony Sugar, relying on a core of youthful players plucked from the inter-school games. He has also coached teams like Tusker and Chemelil, and has also had stints in Tanzania, coaching clubs like Biashara United.

The media-friendly coach has already made history by making Police secure third place in his first season, when he took over the team after two league matches played from Sammy 'Pamzo' Omollo.

Given how Police have prepared, expect Baraza to challenge the big boys for the title.

Who will Police face in their first five fixtures?

Police open their campaign when they host Kariobangi Sharks on Saturday, before taking on Posta Rangers, Shabana, AFC Leopards and Bidco United.