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Promotion hunt supersedes Shield honours, say Vihiga

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Vihiga United head coach Edward manoah during a past match. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21 – National Super League side Vihiga United would rather concentrate on earning promotion to the Kenyan Premier League than put all their efforts towards hunting for GOtv Shield honours, head coach Edward Manoah has hinted.

Vihiga cruised to the semi-finals of the Shield with a shocking 2-0 win over defending champions Tusker FC, but though Manoah says they will strive to strike a balance between the two competitions, earning promotion tops his agenda.

“We don’t want to lose focus. We now want to find a way where we can be able to balance between the two; league and GOtv Shield. That is one area we need to be very careful of because we might end up messing ourselves,” Manoah told Capital Sport.

He adds; “If it were me, the NSL is of more importance. We missed last year by a whisker and this time we cannot afford to miss. We should not make a mistake of losing focus.”

The former Chemelil Sugar head coach has asked for commitment from his players, noting they have a good shot of playing Premier League football for the first time in their history.

Vihiga leads the National Super League table with 40 points after 20 matches, keeping a four-point buffer between them and second placed Nairobi Stima.

“It is not a big gap and we need to be very careful with our remaining games. The Super League is very competitive,” the tactician added.

Meanwhile Manoah hopes the new Vihiga County Government will continue supporting the team despite a change in leadership that saw incumbent Moses Akaranga replaced by former Emuhaya MP Wilber Otichillo.

Vihiga United midfielder Charles Okwemba vies for the ball with Tusker FC’s Boniface Muchiri during a GOtv Shield quarter final clash at the Nyayo Stadium on August 20, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The tactician admitted they faced a tough build-up to their GOtv Shield match against Tusker due to the change of guard, but the win calmed their nerves even as they lay hope that Otichillo and his team will not drop them off the huge plate of county government funds.

Akaranga had invested hugely in the team, sponsoring them to a tune of almost Sh40mn a season and had also bought them a team bus.

“The outgoing governor was very passionate and committed to engaging the youth through football. We are heartbroken with the changes; we are nervous because we don’t know whether the incoming executive will still support us. If not, then we will have lost four years of hard work,” the tactician narrated.

He however hopes the fact that they are on the verge of KPL promotion and have secured a GOtv Shield semis slot for the first time in their history will convince the new county bosses to ensure the flow of finances does not dry up.

“The win against Tusker was very important for the players especially because it will stabilize their minds, motivate them and as we shift focus back to the league, we will be calmer and less stressed,” the tactician admitted.

Vihiga will shift their attention to their league tie against St Joseph Youth in Mumias on Sunday afternoon.

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