Tricky NSL openers for relegated sides

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
Barrack Odhiambo of Ushuru FC (left) vies for the ball with Michael Otieno of Shabana FC in a past NSL match. Ushuru will face St Joseph’s while Shabana face Nairobi City Stars on the opening day of the 2019/20 season. Photo/RODGERS NDEGWA

Relegated sides Mt Kenya United and Vihiga United with begin their quest an immediate return to the SportPesa Premier League with away and home matches against Bidco United and Migori Youth respectively.

With the 2019/20 National Super League (NSL) season beginning on September 1, Mt Kenya, who were relegated after numerous cash-related problems that saw them give away two walkovers, will take on Anthony Akhulia’s Bidco United who are keen for a promotion push after a mid-table finish last campaign.

For Vihiga, the endless cash woes that led to many go-slows over unpaid salaries and allowances, will have to be dealt with before they think of a title challenge even though they start as favourites against a Migori Youth side that struggled to avoid relegation from the NSL last season.

Another interesting match will involve former premiership sides Nairobi City Stars and Shabana at Hope Centre. 

City Stars, under new management, will hope to right the wrongs of the last three seasons where they have struggled to make an impact. “We have done our preparations well. The boys look ready and in shape and hopefully, the season will bring good tidings,” said City Stars CEO Patrick Korir. 

Nairobi Stima, who missed out on promotion after losing the two-leg playoff to Posta Rangers, are the other team hoping for a good run that will culminate with a ticket to the top flight.

Leonard Odipo is the man in the Stima hot seat after replacing George Owoko, who quit in a huff, after missing out on promotion. Given the power men’s little patience when results are not impressive, Odipo will have to hit the ground running with Eldoret Youth the opponent on the opening day.

Another man who will be hoping to impress his new employers is Ushuru FC coach James Omondi who took over from recently-sacked Ken Kenyatta.

Kenyatta had been the longest serving coach in all divisions of local football, having taken care of the taxmen for close to nine years but after coming close to promotion and missing out when it mattered most in the last three seasons, his employers decided to look elsewhere. Ushuru’s first match will be against St Joseph’s Youth at Ruaraka grounds. 

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