Kenya Power’s flagship sports outfit Western Stima are back in the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) after missing the 2018 season due to relegation.
Having played nine years of top-flight football before the fateful plunge in 2017, the club is coy and has tactfully declined to set targets until after playing their first match of the season. Whether that is from lack of confidence or superstition or just a logical decision, it remains mysterious.
A lot has changed since they last played in the top league and their shyness could be justified but in a league where promoted teams have a chance of making loud football statements, Stima will be no pushovers.
Kariobangi Sharks finished 3rd in their debut season in 2016 and Vihiga United mustered 12th position in the 2018 season, fairing better than six teams in the division. With the squad and financial backing the club enjoys, Stima can muster a top 10 finish.
“We will only set our targets after the first game of the season. Then we shall know the level of competition we are up against,”said founder and long-serving chairman Laban Jobita.
In their technical bench, Stima have confirmed Paul Ogai as the head coach but also retained former long-serving tactician Henry Omino as the technical director. Omino’s vast experience in the SPL offers unrivalled advantage to the inexperienced Ogai if they can continue working in harmony.
“The team looks good and the manner in which they secured promotion is testament. SPL is different ball game though and that is why we have decided to beef up the squad. We had a splendid pre-season and are looking forward to a good outing in the league,” said Ogai after axing 11 players and signing 10.
Top on the list of recruited players is Baron Oketch, a once prolific scorer for the team, before he moved to Gor, Ulinzi and then Bandari.
“I’m just happy to be back after my adventures elsewhere. In this career there are always ups and downs and I’m back at Stima to redeem myself and vie for the golden boot,” said Oketch upon re-signing for the team.