Vihiga back in the top league

Thursday, November 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Vihiga United players celebrate after winning the duel yesterday. INSET: Kisumu All Stars’ Erick Otieno (left) vies for the ball against Norman Warunga of Vihiga United during their KPL promotion playoff at Moi Stadium, Kisumu yesterday. Photo/SPORTPICHA

Kisumu All-Stars short reign in top flight football came to a crashing halt at their own backyard yesterday after losing 5-3 on post-match penalties to Vihiga United in the second leg of a two legged play-off played at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.

The two teams had to be separated by the spot kicks after a 3-3 tie on aggregate.

The lakeside team had opened the scores in the 47th minute through Eric Otieno but two minutes later Dennis Wafula levelled the scores for a 1-1 draw at the break.

The second half saw Paul Okulo covert a penalty for the visitors after the hosts handled the ball in the box and from then on they were in total control of the match.

Before yesterday’s match, Kisumu All Stars carried a slight advantage after piping Vihiga 2-1 at their home ground in Mumias at the weekend before the tables were turned.

With the play-off victory, Vihiga United became the first team from the National Super League to earn promotion to the top tier through the play-offs.

Last season Nairobi Stima were not so lucky against premier league side Posta Rangers.

The first half was tense and almost cagey for both teams as they sought to size each other on a sunny afternoon.

Otenga as the local side is commonly known, were pressing high up the pitch and using most of their speedy wingers on the flank to unsettle their opponents, but Vihiga had most of the ball in the process having four shots on target against the lakeside team’s one chance.

The enterprising pair of Eric Otieno and Nelson Amunga was a handful but their chances went begging as they stretched the Vihiga side with the opposing goalkeeper, veteran Joel Bataro and his defence sucking the pressure despite being kept busy.

Vihiga under the tutelage of coach Sammy Okoth had finished third in the season ending Betika Super League.

Yesterday they enjoyed the services of Nigerian import Junior Adefeya and the attacking pair of Henry Juma and Mike Isabawa who created good chances.

Indeed All-Stars vulnerabilities were exposed when they were severally caught against the run of play and individual errors in the 18 yard area which saw the opponents punish them inside six minutes of the match due to avoidable fouls.

In the 73rd minute Wafula caught the backline for dead but skewed his chance to add on his tally with All-Stars goalkeeper John Awuoth well beaten.

Minutes earlier, the same player was involved in the second goal after his loose ball was handled in the box by defender Jeckonia Ogendo for the resultant spot-kick to be hit home by Patrick Okulo.

“I am so happy to be back and all credit to the boys for showing character.

I told them after the first leg in Mumias that there was still a chance. The home team were a bit of a problem but we adapted faster and hit them.

Our penalties were also comfortably taken despite losing Bataro to injury,” said an elated Okoth who now gets a third stint in league after his exploits with Zoo and the now defunct Sher Karuturi.

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