Western Stima secured promotion back to the SportPesa Premier League following their Friday’s 1-0 victory over Coast Stima in a National Super League (NSL) clash held at Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
It was all jubilation for the coach Paul Ogai’s side when centre referee Evans Waka blew the final whistle of the match, with a handful of their supporters present at the stadium giving them a standing ovation for making a return to the top flight.
The power men claimed the points courtesy of Mukisa Junior’s 88th minute strike, which sees them maintain top spot on 76 points.
This means that the worst Stima can finish in the second tier competition is second spot, that is if they lose all their remaining two matches against Nairobi Stima and Talanta FC,
Only the top two finishers are guaranteed slots in the top tier.
Ogai was quick at expressing his joy following his side’s major achievement stating: “I am happy to have returned the team to the main top league. It has been a long journey for me especially in the first three matches, but we recollected ourselves and it went well.”
Coast Stima coach Kinero Swaleh said his side played well, and were unlucky to lose from a set piece.
“We did our best in the match, but we did achieve what brought us here. Defending a set piece is never easy,” said Swaleh.
Elsewhere, KCB thumped Green Commandoes 2-0 at Camp Toyoyo grounds courtesy of Dennis Ng’ang’a and Kennedy Owino goals in either half in another league tie on Friday.
The bankers are now on 69 points, seven below leaders Stima.
Fellow contenders Ushuru blew their promotion chances after a 1-1 draw against visiting St Joseph Youth in the early kick off at Camp Toyoyo.
Kevin Taabu cancelled Bill Oporia’s early goal as the Nakuru-based side clawed back a point leaving the tax men fourth on 62 points.
Coast Stima goalkeeper Benedict Meso denied James Ogada a goal in the 11th minute, when he saved his close range shot, before they wasted a chance from the resultant corner kick.
The intensity of the match lowered and for the the next 20 minutes, none of the sides had a short on target.
In the 31st minute, Nyarombo picked Ogada’s pass inside the box and successfully rounded Alfred Maningi, before sending a heavy strike to the left, which Meso sent out , before he blocked Johana Mwita’s header from Okoth’s corner-kick.
The visitors then attempted to break, with Mohamed Nzai releasing Davis Shikala on the left, but his effort was thwarted a few meters from the box.
Looking not to stumble in the important match, coach Ogai made early substitutions at the interval, bringing in Hubert Kopany for John Oruko and Wesley Kemboi for Nyarombo in the 64th minute.
The visitors responded a minute later with a double substitution as coach Swaleh brought in Okoth Okumu and Muhidin Muhidin for Collins Kombo and Shikala respectively.
The host continued to pile pressure on their opponents and twice came close to breaking the deadlock, but they blew the chances away.
Ogada’s 83rd minute close-range attempt was blocked by Meso, before the goalkeeper again denied substitute Kopany a few minutes later.
But it was Junior’s stunning free-kick in the 88th minute after Okoth had been fouled on the left near the box that made a difference.
The latter beat Meso with a strike to the far right of the goal post to earn his side promotion.
Ushuru 1-1 St Joseph Youth (Camp Toyoyo grounds)
KCB 2-0 Green Commandoes (Camp Toyoyo grounds)
Western Stima 1-0 Coast Stima (Moi stadium)