NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – After 12 years in the lower tier leagues of Kenyan Football, Nzoia United, winners of the Kenyan premier League in 2002 have made a resounding return to top tier football.
With four games remaining before the National Super League (NSL) ends, Nzoia have opened up an unassailable lead of 14 points at the top meaning they have already been assured of a place in the Premier League next season.
“It is such a huge thing for us as a team because this is a project we started two years ago. We knew we had the ability to achieve it because I saw the hunger in the team. Not only the players but the management as well was pulling in one direction and believed in the project,” youthful coach Bernard Mwalala, a former Kenyan international told Capital Sports.
The Bungoma based club has been in imperious form, reaching the quarter finals of the GOtv Shield and from 34 games league games, losing only once, to Nakuru All Stars.
Mwalala who played for Nzoia between 2001 and 2003 has heaped praise on his youthful squad for their never-say-die attitude and their desire to achieve results.
“These boys have amazed me because the amount of self belief they have is immense. They don’t fear taking on any opponent and they work hard throughout the matches. They also want to play with the ball, move very well and these are some of the attributes that have seen us achieve this feat,” the tactician disclosed.
He is already looking on to the Premier League experience and has warned the top boys not to expect it easy. Nzoia already showed what they can do in the GOtv Shield after eliminating Tusker last season, Gor Mahia this season before narrowly losing to finalists Ulinzi Stars on penalties.
“They should not think we are an easy side. My target as at now is to ensure the team comes in and finishes in the top five. Probably in the next three years, we should be thinking of winning the league. The league is a journey and if we can ensure after the first leg we are still in the top five, then we are okay,” he added.
As opposed to how most promoted clubs clean up their teams to bring in experienced faces, Mwalala says he will maintain the same youthful squad and at most will add two players to the team.
“I am a young coach and definitely I would want to work with young players who I can help develop. Adding a huge number of experienced players to the team will be a problem. I would rather fail with young players who have a dream and ambition. I trust these players and I know they will get the job done,” Mwalala offered.
Meanwhile, Kariobangi Sharks, Zoo Kericho, Nakumatt FC, Vihiga United and KCB are chasing promotion slots though it is not clear yet how many teams will play in the Kenyan Premier League next season.
Sharks are second on the log with 71 points, two ahead of Zoo Kericho and Nakumatt who are third and fourth respectively.
Vihiga and KCB are tied on 63 points at fifth and sixth.