NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – Nakumatt FC retained their status in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) after beating National Super League (NSL) side Ushuru FC 2-0 in the return leg of the relegation and promotion play-off at the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Waithira’s sumptuous double was the difference as he added on to Tom Adwar’s first leg goal, Ushuru falling off at the play-off stage for the second consecutive time.
Last season, they fell at the same stage after losing 2-1 on aggregate to Thika United.
Carrying a 1-0 advantage from the first leg played last week at the Camp Toyoyo, Nakumatt were heads up heading into the return tie and they just needed to avoid defeat to ensure they remain in the top tier.
They started the game commanding possession, playing short passes with the Kasarani surface hugely favoring their style of play.
They broke the deadlock after 22 minutes and in sublime fashion, Waithira’s sublime chip from the edge of the box taking them 1-0 up on the day and 2-0 on aggregate.
Waithira picked the ball at the edge of the box from a Timonah Wanyonyi pass before waiting on keeper Kennedy Obwanda to step off his line and chip over him.
As if Ushuru’s day couldn’t get worse, their attacking mastermind Benson Amianda was forced out injured after 25 minutes and his place taken by West African max Ravel.
Nakumatt continued to dominate with Ushuru failing to get any meaningful effort at goal. In the 33rd minute, the KPL side had a chance to stretch their lead when Moses Odhiambo’s corner fell in Eugene Ambulwa’s path, but the defender’s powerful header went just wide.
Ushuru had their first sniff at goal after 34 minutes, and it was a brilliant chance harder missed than scored. Ravel picked the ball at the edge of the box one on one with the keeper after Ekaliani Ndolo floated it back into the area but the substitute hit the outside of the post.
They were almost punished four minutes on the turn when a swift move from Nakumatt saw Odhiambo release Cornelius Juma on the right, but the striker took a poor shot after breaking into the box, the ball going wide.
The taxmen came back a better side in the second half, just like they did in the first leg and attacked wit more intent. In the 52nd minute they had a chance when Bill Oporia’s cross was met at the backpost by Ndolo, but his effort came against the side netting.
Two minutes later, Oscar Mbugua came close when he found space in a crowded area to release a left footed shot, but the effort went inches wide.
Off a counter, Nakumatt almost scored a vital second when Wanyonyi squared a pass to Moses Odhiambo on the right, but his low shot from the edge of the edge of the area went inches wide.
Nakumatt made changes, John Avire and Harun Nyakha coming on for Clinton Kisiavuki and Odhiambo.
But Ushuru kept their surge looking for an equalizing goal. In the 67th minute, they were inches close to drawing level when substitute Alex Sunga raced on to a ball from Nelson Marasowe, lifting the ball over the advancing keeper but the effort went inches wide.
On the other end, Boniface Mukhekhe’s shot from range was deflected for a corner as Nakumatt looked for the lone goal to seal the game. Ushuru kept the pressure, dumping balls into the area but none was successful to get even one goal.
Sunga twice came close, first with a rasping shot from distance which kissed the upside of the crossbar while his second, a dipping header from a corner landed on the roof of the net.
It was Nakumatt who would have the last laugh, Waithira striking the second and the stroke of halftime with a little dink over the keeper from Wanyonyi’s pass.