NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Ken Kenyatta returns to the Kenyan Premier League promotion play-off for the second consecutive season this year having missed the ultimate target in 2017 with a loss to Thika United, and the experienced tactician wants to make the most of his second chance.
The taxmen were relegated from the top tier at the close of the 2016 season and they came close to a return last year but couldn’t go past Thika in the play-off having finished third in the regular National Super League season.
“We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes we did last season. I think we did not have that drive to gain promotion and we were not so keen. This time, we can’t take things lightly again. We have to improve collectively as a team,” the tactician told Capital Sport.
Ushuru will take on Nakumatt FC in the first leg of the play-off on Friday afternoon at the Camp Toyoyo and will be looking to earn an early advantage and mark a grand return to top flight.
Kenyatta’s charges only managed to sneak into the play-off slot by two points after playing to a 1-1 draw with Bidco United in their final match of the season while their competitors Nairobi Stima lost 4-1 to promoted KCB.
The side had started the season positively and were runaway leaders at some point in the season, but soon complacency streamed in and they dropped off the top two automatic promotion slots.
“This is football and sometimes things happen and we have to go on with life. The most important thing is that we are here now. Pressure is always there but the good thing is that we have learnt how to deal with it. We will be ready for the game,” the tactician further stated.
Kenyatta added that the allure of playing in the country’s top league is pushing his players to perform well and win the two-legged tie, noting that having players who have had prior Premier League experience will strengthen his side.
“They know how important it is because everybody wants to play in the top league. This is their chance and they know they can’t blow it. What matters most is the character of the players and what they want. This is their match to make their names,” further stated the tactician.
They come up against a Nakumatt side wallowing in financial difficulty and the side despite having experienced a small rise in mid-season following the arrival of a new owner, saw their fortunes drop after the owner’s financial problems.
Nonetheless, Kenyatta expects a very tough match from Nakumatt who he says will be motivated enough to remain in the league and has called on his players not to underrate the side.
‘It will be a very tough match because everyone wants to play in the Premier League. Nakumatt want to remain, we want to play as well. This is a very crucial game for both of us and we hope for victory at the end of it,” the tactician noted.
Kenyatta will have a full-strength squad to select his best 18 for the match and with a healthy Premier League experience laden in his squad, he look set to grind a first leg advantage.
Among the players expected to play a crucial role for the tactician in the play-off include 2014 KPL player of the year Anthony Ndolo, former City Stars man Luis Masika and his former skipper Oscar Mbugua.
Others include former Posta Rangers man Edwin Mwaura and striker Bill Oporia who has been banging in the goals for them.