Former NSL champions go head-on in Kisumu as the KPL returns

A face-off between 2018 National Super League (NSL) champions Western Stima FC and their successors Wazito FC is one of the clashes that highlights the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Week Two roster, a contest set to be staged at the Moi Stadium on Saturday 14th from 3 pm.

Both teams only managed to pick a point from their Week One encounters- both played at the Machakos County stadium. Stima had the more eventful outcome as they have never picked a point away at Kariobangi Sharks. They did this in a 2-2 draw. Wazito, on the other hand, had been expected to issue a statement of intent against an equally overhauled Nzoia Sugar FC side but found the proceedings tough- instead, having to net from the spot through Elvis Rupia to even the tie as the sugar millers had in fact taken the lead in the clash.

The two teams- Stima and Wazito haven’t faced off in the top flight as with the moneybags doing their second-tier championship campaign last season, Stima had gained promotion from the same division. The year before, it was Stima who had gone down a tier below while Wazito had earned promotion.

Action between Wazito FC and Western Stima in a last 16 tie of the 2019 FKF Shield Cup played Sunday 31 March at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu [IMAGE- Fabian Odhiambo]

There is a recent meeting, however, a cup clash at the Moi stadium that had hosts Stima emerge 2-1 winners in the Shield round of 16 clashes. Derrick Onyango had sent the visitors up in the first half only for ‘keeper Samuel Odhiambo to cancel the opener early in the second half. Kennedy Otieno, now at Gor Mahia, scored the winner as Stima marched into the quarter-finals.

In their Week One clashes, the moneybags seemed to have opted to preserve some of their biggest signings for future matches. Tomorrow’s match could be one such match in which they unleash a two or three more seasoned starters. They bring with them two former Stima old boys in Vincent Odongo and goalkeeper Gad Mathew. Odongo is the more recent departure having helped Stima regain promotion into the top flight and will play his first season with Wazito.

They head to the lakeside with a new Chief Executive Officer in former player Dennis Gicheru who- up until his medical treatment, was captain of the club. Gicheru was appointed club CEO yesterday.

Joe Waithira will now serve as the team’s captain having also led the team out in Week One.

Former Captain Dennis Gicheru was appointed Club CEO yesterday [IMAGE- Courtesy]

Coach Salim Babu, on the other hand, must have been thrilled at his charges’ display in Week One and might only alter a few technical aspects of how he wants to play Wazito. New signings Abdallah Chamberi and Fidel Origa both started last week and could maintain their places having stood up to a more solid Sharks middle in their last encounter.

Upfront, Ugandan forward Oromchan Villa is also a likely starter and might have to get a new supporting forward as Hassan Kikoyo was withdrawn early in their last action. The back-four that currently includes 2018-19 defender of the year runner up Kelvin Wesonga- did a splendid job and are expected to have a nod once more.