National Super League (NSL) newbies Vihiga Bullets Football Club have grown in leaps and bounds over a short period, and have faced synonymous to promotion on their touchline.
Coach Edward Manoah, a man who has tasted promotion glory with such teams as Kakamega Homeboyz and Vihiga United, is the man at the helm of the side that shares a training ground with his former employers Vihiga United.
Soka caught up with the seasoned tactician at their base in Kidundu Stadium, briefly after the Football Kenya Federation confirmed their promotion from the Division 1 to the second tier NSL. The man who led the now relegated Vihiga United to their first top flight appearance, and has kept a low profile since, says his exit at Vihiga had long been looming.
”My last match was against Nakumatt (Mount Kenya United) and before that match I had already made up my mind to leave. The working environment could not allow me to do my job well,” he starts us off, further revealing that there was no time to rest and he quickly started work with Bullets.
”I did not go for complete rest after Vihiga United, so when the league ended, I was invited to Vihiga Bullets who had just formed the team. I was then tasked with recruitment,” he says.
Bullets have emerged top of Div 1 Zone B with 60 points, eight ahead of second-placed AP’s Bomet, and still, have two home matches to play, against GFE 105 and Bondo United.
Coach Manoah’s charges, though a youthful side, are drawn from all over the country with their trial invite attracting well over 150 players. They had to do it for two months in search of the perfect team. There was however an age cap set for Manoah’s technical team that currently includes his former goalkeeper at Vihiga United – Barnabas Tiema.
”The residence was Vihiga but I was allowed to create a team from all over the country. What really motivated me was when the management gave me an age cut-line for the team we were creating. They wanted young boys below the age of 22, and I liked the plan,
”More than 150 boys showed up for selection, and we had to do it for over two months. Cutting and trimming the numbers and when the year ended, we had a good number of about twenty,” continues Manoah.
He notes a few differences in the third tier as compared to six seasons ago when he played there with Vihiga United. The organization Kenya’s third tier is something that he revealed enabled him plan his tactics well unlike previous years when the lower tiers were a den of anarchy.
”The organization in Div 1 is excellent currently, that’s what I noticed when I coached Vihiga Bullets this season. My second stint in the Div 1 has been great, there are very little differences between the third tier and the top flight,” he adds.
It will not be his first time in the second tie, but he is more keen this time round not to rush his charges. One of the main undoings of a young team he says- is pressure from outside to outdo their objectives. Manoah believes integration comes first for him. He has a very young side and does not want to promise much.
”I hope the management maintains our objectives. They are very young boys and pressure should not interfere with their integration into the top tiers. If maintained, that will be great because we even have some new additions straight from high school.
We got 6 players from Nyanza and Western region ball games and they will join us as soon as they finish their O’levels,” he concludes.
Bullets, who play their Div 1 home matches at Demesi School in Mbale, will feature in the same division with Vihiga United who suffered a drop from the top flight Kenyan Premier League.