18 October 2018

Kenya: Ushuru Out to Beat Nakumatt in Crucial Race for Coveted KPL Slot

Former SportPesa Premier League (SPL) side Ushuru faces cash-strapped Nakumatt in the first leg of the promotion/relegation playoff Friday afternoon at Camp Toyoyo grounds.

The 3pm kick-off sees Ushuru, who finished third in the National Super League (NSL) on 69 points from 36 rounds, tackle Nakumatt, who finished 16th in the SPL table with 37 points from 34 games.

The aggregate winner in the two-leg fixture joins Western Stima and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in the 2018/19 top tier season due to commence on December 8.

The Ken Kenyatta-coached Ushuru are not newcomers to this stage having lost 2-0 on aggregate to Thika United last year and will be aiming to go one better as they attempt to make a dream to return to the top flight after a two-year hiatus.

"We cannot make same mistakes we committed last year, we need to make a mark," said Kenyatta after leading his charges in a one-hour training session at City Stadium.

He added: "They (Nakumatt) are the favourites because of premier league experience but a game of football is determined in 90 minutes."

The former Kenyan international played down banking on experienced forward Paul Kiongera whose equaliser in the season finale tie against Bidco United last Saturday ensured they finished third, a point ahead of closest challengers Nairobi Stima.

"Every player in my team has an impact, no single player is key," concluded Kenyatta who will also heavily rely on the prowess of club top scorer Benson Amianda who netted eight goals in the just concluded NSL campaign.

This is the first time the two sides will be meeting in a competitive fixture but for Nakumatt players, who are reported to have gone for three months without pay, their belief is that their two year stint in the top flight will give them an upper hand.

"We want our team to remain in the SPL, we know how difficult the second tier is and we wouldn't want drop down," said Nakumatt goalkeeper Phillip Odhiambo who encounters his former employers Ushuru.

Nakumatt assistant captain Kelvin Thairu has predicted a physical game.

"We've played Ushuru several times in friendly, they are a good team we can't underrate them, we hope everything will work out to our favour," Thairu offered.

The second leg will be played next Sunday at Kasarani.

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