NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – Western Stima head coach Paul Ogai says the team is ready for their return to top flight football and has warned that the powermen will not be returning just to make up the numbers but compete.
Stima gained promotion back to the Kenyan Premier League just one year after they were relegated following their 1-0 National Super League (NSL) win over Coast Stima last Friday in Kisumu.
“It is such a huge relief for us to gain this ticket back to the league because there was a lot of pressure on us from the management to the fans to get back to the league. I cannot even express the feeling we have as a team especially personally because I only joined the team in mid-season,” Ogai, a former Palos FC head coach said.
Stima lead the NSL standings with 77 points from 35 matches and have just one more assignment which they need to win to ensure they are crowned league champions next weekend.
-Focus on KPL
But, their focus now is on their campaign in the KPL next season where the tactician hopes they will make a permanent imprint.
“We have learnt so much from the NSL> It is a very tough league and you have to be on your feet all the time. The KPL is equally tough and I just want to tell everyone that we are coming to stay. The first target we have is remaining there and if we can battle to be among the top five, then well and good,” Ogai added.
The tactician took over from Ugandan Richard Makumbi who was fired in July after the side bowed out of the FKF Shield and their performance in the NSL was starting to go downhill.
“I found the team at fourth spot and the promotion race wasn’t looking very good. But we worked our back up and I really want to thank the players because they cooperated so much to make my work easier. They embraced my philosophy and it made the process seamless,” the coach noted.
“I have only lost one game since I took charge and running to 13 matches without a loss. It is a run that has propelled us back to the KPL. We want to go back to the KPL with that same momentum. There is very little time between now and when the season begins so we have to adapt quite quick,” the coach further stated.
-KCB chase automatic promotion
He says he has already presented his list of players he wants to sign for the new season to the club’s management and he hopes they will land them in a bid to strengthen for the top tier.
Meanwhile, KCB who look strong favorites to seal the second automatic promotion slot will look to complete the job on Sunday when they take on FC Talanta. A win in this game will confirm their place in next year’s KPL even before they play the final match of the season against Nairobi Stima.
The bankers who have been in the second tier for three seasons now are on 72 points, five ahead of Nairobi Stima who will face Kenya Police on the same day.
KCB head coach Elvis Ayany says the side is focused to complete the job on Sunday to ensure their season finale against Nairobi Stima is a mere formality.
“We cannot underrate Talanta because that is the same mistake we have been making for the last three seasons. We are taking every game seriously and the players know we can’t afford to put ourselves under pressure for the final day. We want to complete the job against Talanta,” Ayany noted.
Nairobi Stima will now be left to fight for the play-off slot with Ushuru who are only two points behind them. If Stima win on Sunday and Ushuru lose away to Nakuru All Stars, then Stima will confirm their third place finish.
Ushuru finished third last season and lost the play-off to Thika United and this season they will be hoping for better luck. The taxmen’s only hope for promotion is on the play-off as mathematically, the second automatic slot is off reach.
“We will fight till the final match and see what comes off it. Ours is to work on the pitch and get ready for any kind of result,” head coach Ken Kenyatta said.
NSL Weekend fixtures:
FC Talanta v KCB (Camp Toyoyo, 10am), Coast Stima v Nairobi City Stars (Mbaraki 12pm), Bidco United v Migori Youth (Thika Stadium, 12pm), St. Joseph Youth v Kibera Black Stars (1pm), Ushuru v Nakuru All Stars (Afraha Stadium 3pm), GFE 105 v Kangemi All Stars (Sudi Stadium 2pm), Nairobi Stima v Kenya Police (Karuturi 2pm), Green Commandos v Kisumu All Stars (Mumias 2pm), Administration Police v Modern Coast (Hope Centre 3pm).