It’s do-or-die for Kisumu All Stars, Vihiga Utd in play-off
Barry Silah and Fred Likuyani
Kisumu All-Stars’ are one match away from retaining their place in the Kenyan Premier League after their first leg play-off win over Vihiga United.
The slim 2-1 away win at Mumias Sports Complex on Saturday has put the lakeside team, popularly referred to as Otenga, in an advantageous position with the team now praying for a positive result Wednesday at their home ground, the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
Willis Otenda starred for the lakeside outfit after grabbing a brace to assist his club make a step closer to their returning to KPL.
Indeed, All-Stars who fared poorly in the last campaign finishing 16th and are now vowing to seal the loose ends so as to stay longer in the championship given the fact that it is the only standing team left in the region after the relegation of Sony Sugar and Chemelil Sugar from the top tier.
Speaking to People Sport from their camp, club Captain Bobby Kwaka expressed optimism of staying afloat and thus promising not to disappoint its club faithful.
The team which was promoted to the Kenyan Premier League last year has a lot of its youthful players drawn from the region.
Kwaka is convinced that because of their chemistry, they can deliver good results.
“We all know what is at stake and it is not over yet. However, I am sure we can get the job done. This is our turf and we are familiar with it entirely.
We know what we need to do tactically so as to close the match out and it is twice advantageous because we are in our backyard and at the same time have an important away win.
I am certain our coach has the best strategy come Wednesday, as for us all we need is to be ready,” said the skipper.
Club CEO Nicholas Ochien’g has hailed his boys’ fighting spirit dubbing it remarkable. He revealed that after a long chat with the players, they understood what was at hand.
Meanwhile, Vihiga United head coach Sammy Okoth insists that his charges have a chance of turning the tables during the second leg of the play-off.
Speaking to the media after the final whistle, Okoth rued the wasted opportunities by his players and also blasted referee Felix Ekai for what he termed as a soft penalty that opened the scores for visitors.
“This was a volatile match with stakes being high and we expected fair and professional officiating which could have given a different picture.
We, however, accept the results and move on as we focus on the second leg.
“We believe most of our players are still young and lacked experience which made us not convert our chances.
Our game plan was disrupted after we conceded an early goal,” pointed out Okoth.
He said he will assess the performance of the players and try to fix things in two days before the return match which he termed as open for either side.
and was looking for an opportunity to capitalize on it.
Elated Kisumu All-stars tactician Andrew Aroka warned that it’s too early to celebrate terming Vihiga United a tough side that frustrated his side, but revealed that the crucial away win will motivate his players and build their confidence.
“It was clear from our chat what was required and I am happy the message was home. They understand that they are playing for their lives and basically forget about small problems.”