Fred Likuyani and Barry Silah @PeopleSports11
Kakamega High School’s Green Commandos began their National Super League (NSL) campaign with a 1-1 draw after Collins Kombo came off the bench to salvage a crucial away point for visiting Coast Stima at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega yesterday.
Both teams, who got promoted to the second-tier league last year, produced entertaining football that left the cheering fans on their toes with Green Commandos taking advantage to trouble Stima in the fifth minute after Kenya U20 player Joshua Otieno forced the visitors’ shot stopper Ali Said into a match-winning save.
Commandos, under Brendan Mwinamo, kept pressing but all their efforts were thwarted by the experienced Stima defence marshaled by Erick Mohammed. Mwinamo boosted his midfield by introducing Victor Matete for the ineffective Riziki Muema just 10 minutes into the second half, the change allowing Henry Alola to beat two defenders before rounding off the goalkeeper to tap the ball into an empty net.
However, Stima equalised in the 57th minute from a brilliant free kick taken by Kombo from the edge of the box. Meanwhile, Western Stima and Muhoroni Youth—relegated from the Kenyan Premier League last season—posted mixed results in their first match in the NSL.
While Stima began with a 2-0 win over Modern Coast Rangers on Sunday, Muhuroni failed to turn up for their televised clash against KCB, handing the bankers a walkover and three free points. It is not clear why Muhoroni failed to turn up but it could be due to the financial problems that saw them relegated last year, and if that is going to be the norm in 2018, then another demotion to Division One is in the offing.
Against Modern Coast, Henry Omino’s Stima needed Johana Mwita and Maurice Dukuly’s second half goals to get them off to a winning start. Another side with ambitions of getting back to the top flight Ushuru also started with a win, beating Administration Police 2-0 via goals from Benjamin Amianda and former Tusker midfielder Ekaliani Ndolo.
Ushuru, who finished third in NSL last season, missed out on promotion after losing to Thika United in the play-offs and head coach Ken Kenyatta will be hoping to qualify directly this time after blowing away their chance on the final day last year.
Promoted NSL teams also had mixed fortunes with Kangemi All-Stars losing 2-1 to Bidco United while Kisumu All-Stars, who took the place of the defunct Palos FC, holding St Joseph’s to a barren draw.