NAIROBI, MARCH 18- Newly appointed KCB FC head coach Leonard Saleh believes the club will be back in top flight football next year after being relegated to the second tier for the first time.
KCB begin their life in the National Super League with a trip to promoted side Vihiga United and Saleh says they are ready for the task.
“Our number one task is getting back to the Premier League and we want this to happen in 2017. For us, this is just a short transition. We know the lower tier league is not easy but we are ready to fight and get promotion,” the experienced Saleh said.
Saleh, who previously coached Kakamega Homeboyz, returns to the team after a four year absence following his sacking in October 2011.
The coach has been forced to build a new team as he only has four players remaining from the squad that played in the top tier last season.
Of the four, he will have to do without striker Crispinus Onyango, who will miss the entire first-leg after undergoing knee surgery last week.
Goalkeeper Zachary Onyango, midfielder Michael Oyando and striker Raymond Murugi are some of the experienced players remaining.
Saleh has signed only one more experienced face in former Gor Mahia and Ushuru FC midfielder Moses ’ Odhiambo while Augustine Eshiwani joins from Posta Rangers on loan.
“Despite the fact we don’t have much of experience within the team, I believe during the last eight weeks of training we have build a strong team and our aim is to get started on a positive note.
We are playing against an unfamiliar opponent and this will make the match tough. But if we can be able to start positively, it will give us a good push,” Saleh added.
This will be among the nine matches which will be played on the first match day of the new-look second tier league.
Nakuru All Stars, who were relegated alongside KCB last season, will start their campaign awayagainst Bidco United in Thika.
Bidco, under the tutelage of 2013 Kenyan Premier League coach of the year Abdallah Juma has come close to promotion in previous years, and they will be going all out to make their dream a reality this season.
Jimmy Angila who has been AllStars academy coach for more than a decade will be tasked with heading the Nakuru based senior side after the departure of Peter Okidi, who joined top tier side Kakamega Homeboyz as assistant.
AllStars will also be using a rather new team with most of their players moving to top tier clubs after their relegation.
Shabaan Odhoji (Ushuru), Frank Balla (Sofapaka), Titus Achesa (Posta Rangers), Maurice Ochieng (City Stars), Lwamba Bebeto (Muhoroni Youth) as well as John Ndirangu and Boniface Akenga (Kariobangi Sharks) are some of the top players who ditched the club.
Akenga and Ndirangu are expected to be part of the Sharks squad that will be at home to MOSCA at the Ruaraka complex in Nairobi.
This will be one of the two matches slated for the venue with new babies Police FC taking on Nairobi Stima in the early kick off.
Newcomers Wazito FC will be on the same pitch on Sunday taking on FC Talanta.
NSL Weekend fixtures:
Saturday; Palos FC v Nakumatt (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Vihiga United v KCB FC (Mumias Complex), Bidco United v Nakuru All Stars (Thika), Nairobi Stima v Police FC, Kariobangi Sharks v MOSCA (Ruaraka), Nzoia United v West Kenya (Nzoia)
Sunday; Modern Coast Rangers v Zoo Kericho (Mombasa County Stadium), FC Talanta v Wazito FC (Ruaraka), St. Joseph v Ligi Ndogo (Afraha Stadium)