NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Western Stima will mark a grand return to the Kenyan Premier League on Friday, just one season after they were relegated, if they beat ‘small brothers’ Coast Stima at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
Western Stima sit at the apex of the National Super League (NSL) standings with 73 points after 33 matches, seven ahead of second placed KCB who have played a match less and 10 ahead of third placed Nairobi Stima.
A win on Friday will take them to 76 points meaning the worst they can finish assuming they lose their final two games of the season is second spot.
The powermen have been on a roll and have won all their last five matches, and look destined for a return back to the top tier. Their last defeat was on August 11 when they lost by a solitary goal away to Bidoc United.
They have enjoyed a formidable fortress in Kisumu where they have only lost once, to another ‘small brother’ team Nairobi Stima who beat them 1-0. They have won 13 and drawn two and head coach Paul Ogai will be looking to keep the record as fearful as he can.
Coast Stima are placed sixth in the NSL standings and have had a checkered record over the last five games, winning two, drawing a similar number and losing one. The two sides drew 2-2 in the first leg in Mombasa.
Meanwhile, second placed KCB will be eager not to drop the pot at the doorstep as they have done over the last two seasons and will be at home to the Green Commandos at the Camp Toyoyo turf in an early kick off.
The bankers on a run of four wins in five matches have picked plenty of lessons from their failings in the last two seasons where they enjoyed a good campaign only to drop off the promotion race in the dying minutes of the season.
“What we have learnt is that every match is won on the pitch and we should have respect for every opponent we face. We can’t underrate anyone and we have to take every game very seriously,” KCB tactician Elvis Ayany told Capital Sport.
With four matches left, KCB are 66 points, three ahead of Nairobi Stima and the tactician says they want nothing short of the top two automatic promotion slots.
With a weaker goal difference compared to Nairobi Stima, KCB cannot afford to drop the ball with eyes on the prize as the former who are looking for a first ever promotion to the top tier look to take advantage.
“We have our eyes fixed on the prize. We have the focus and all the players are motivated by the fact that they are very close to making it back to the league. Green Commandoes is a very good team and we cannot afford to underrate them. We will go into the match with seriousness,” Ayany further stated.
Commandoes are placed 15th in the standings and look well into avoiding relegation. They awarded a walk over to KCB’s promotion foes Western Stima last weekend, but the Kakamega High School team looks to put that behind their backs on Friday.
The first leg played at the Bukhungu Stadium ended 1-0 in favor of the bankers.
Meanwhile, Nairobi Stima who have not won over the last three matches will be at home on Saturday taking on Administration Police in a must win tie. A loss will be detrimental to their promotion hopes.
Stima are five points ahead of fourth placed Ushuru FC who take on St. Josephs Youth on Friday. The two look to be the most probable candidates to vie for the play-off third place slot.
NSL weekend fixtures:
Friday: Ushuru v St. Josephs Youth, KCB v Green Commandoes (Camp Toyoyo), Western Stima v Coast Stima (Kisumu).
Saturday: Kenya Police v Nairobi City Stars (Naivasha), Migori Youth v Kibera Black Stars (Kisii), Nakuru All Stars v FC Talanta (Nakuru), Administration Police v Nairobi Stima (Camp Toyoyo), Modern Coast v GFE 105 (Mombasa), Kisumu All Stars v Kangemi All Stars (Kisumu).