NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26- Both Nairobi City Stars and Ushuru FC were relegated at the end of the 2016 Kenyan Premier League season, but, they now eye a return to the high table of Kenyan football next year.
Ken Kenyatta’s Ushuru came close last season after finishing third in the regular season, but slipped to a 2-1 aggregate loss to Thika United in the play-off thus failing to land back into the top flight.
City Stars on their side have struggled to get back to the top but they hope the 2018 season can come with better tidings.
The two sides have not started the new NSL season as strong as they would have wished but each bounced back into hope over the weekend with vital wins. Ushuru were 3-1 winners over Nairobi Stima while City Stars beat Kibera Black Stars 2-1.
“It was vital for us to get this win because we haven’t started the season strongly. It comes as a relief to the players especially in our bid to get back to the top tier league,” former captain John Amboko who now serves as the team’s head coach said.
He however hopes that the team’s financial status can improve to aid in their bid, but he says nonetheless, they will fight to keep their dream on course.
“We just need to take a step at a time and keep the winning momentum. It is hard because of financial issues but hopefully things can get better,” the tactician offered.
Ushuru meanwhile ensured the dream stayed on course with their third win of the season and head coach Ken Kenyatta has challenged his boys to pull up their performance after a sluggish start.
“It hasn’t been an easy season but hopefully we pick up as we progress. Last season we got to the play-off and lost and this season, our ambition is to go all the way. It is not easy though because every team has that single dream and the competition is tough,” Kenyatta said.
Ushuru and City Stars lay side by side at 10th and 11th on the log with 11 points a-piece, though the taxmen have a better goal aggregate.
Meanwhile, Western Stima, relegated from the top tier at the close of last season continued with their journey back to the top, picking their fifth win in eight matches beating fellow promotion hopefuls Bidco United 1-0 in Kisumu.
Bidco lie third on the standings with 14 points, three behind the leaders.
Kenya Police meanwhile kept their push to earn promotion with a nervy 2-1 win over Nakuru-based St. Joseph’s Youth in Naivasha. The side coached by renowned tactician Charles ‘Korea’ Omondi are second in the standings with 15 points, two behind leaders and a match at hand.
Meanwhile, the youthful Kibera Black Stars dream of making it into the top tier in their second season in the NSL. They currently sit fifth in the standings with 14 points off four wins and two draws.
“We have dropped some points in the last three matches and lost some tempo but those are the lessons that our young boys have to take,” head coach Geoffrey Oduor said.
“Each of the 19 teams in the NSL want to get promoted and we are also taking that seriously. We are taking a match at a time and giving it the best shot. If we end up getting it, then that will be a plus for us,” the tactician added.
NSL Weekend Results
KCB 3-1 GFE 105, AP4-2 Nakuru All Stars, Western Stima 1-0 Bidco United, Modern Coast 0-0 Talanta, Isibania 1-2 Coast Stima, Kenya Police 2-1 St Joseph’s Youth, Nairobi City Stars 2-1 Kibera Black Stars, Ushuru 3-1 Nairobi Stima, Kangemi All Stars 2-1 Green Commandos.