Imagine nine games into a season with not a single win. That’s how struggling City Stars (NCS) took a stride into year 2019.
It finally arrived in late January, a 1-0 win over Green Commandoes. It took another two months for a second to be registered on the scoreboards; a 3-1 win over Shabana at Camp Toyoyo on the ack of a record of seven straight defeats, and after ten attempts.
With the team out of sorts, relegation to the third tier was a reality.
But there was to be the end of the struggles as boardroom talks in the background, and at the end of the first quarter of the year, one Jonathan ‘Kiplimo’ Jackson, an Eldoret-born Englishman – a real estate Mogul in Europe and in Africa – saved the club from near death by acquiring it in whole from former owner Peter Jabuya.
First stop for Jonathan? A trip out of the red zone.
At the end of the first quarter the team had picked a paltry 14 points from its first 21 of 38 games into the shortened transitional 2018/19 National Super League (NSL) season.
A quick club restructure from April saw the club scoop 25 points in the final 17 games to survive the chop in ending up 14th with 39 points.
For the 2019/2020 season, starting September 2019, City Stars had tabled the simplest of objectives; Promotion to the topflight next season.
Onboarded to this course was Sarajevo-born Sanjin Alagic, a UEFA Pro coach, who masterminded the signing of nine new players and the re-signing of three former club stalwarts.
Four months later the club was unbeaten in 18 games into the 2019 NSL season that opened up a 22-game unbeaten check adding the final four games from the other season.
From end of September the team topped the log with a point advantage after pulling off five wins in six games.
It gap grew to six points at the end of October and November. After the penultimate round of games in the first leg, the team had strewn up an eight-point gap following a 3-1 wallop of Admin Police.
The only blight? A 1-0 loss to Kibera Black Stars in the final game of the first leg in mid-December. Despite that the team carried a seven-point gap to the new year.
What were the identifiable news liners for City Stars in 2019? Here’s a month by month account of happenings.
5th; City Stars starts the year with a 2-2 draw away to Coast Stima
26th; The team snaps an 11-game winless and non-clean sheet run with a 1-0 win over Green Commandoes for their first win into the 2018/19 season. It was the first triumph since a 2-0 win over Kisumu AllStars in early October 2018.
28th; Ugandan Jimmy Kintu takes over as coach relegating former player John Amboko to his assistant.
13th; A 2-1 home defeat to FC Talanta opens the path to a month long losing streak
27th; After 17 games, City Stars ends February with a paltry 11 points from a win and eight draws.
20th; City Stars hits Shabana 3-1 at Toyoyo, in a round 21 game, to snap a record of seven straight defeats, and ten-game winless run, for only their second win of the season. For their fete the team received Kshs 20,000 from Jonathan Jackson who was on the verge of a complete takeover of the club from owner Peter Jabuya.
24th; The next game against host Eldoret Youth, that the team lost 1-0, became the last for Ugandan coach Jimmy Kintu.
28th; Re-elevated Amboko was to kick off his tenure in the next game, a round 23 game, with a 0-0 draw at Camp Toyoyo against Bidco United, for the teams second clean sheet of the season.
3rd; City Stars officially starts life under new dispensation following complete acquisition by the Jonathan Jackson Foundation (JJF). The first game under the new auspices is away to Kisumu AllStars that ends in a 1-1 draw.
6th; The team re-signs former trio; Gambian striker Ebrima Sanneh, wingers Heritier Luvualu and David Gateri, as well as strikers Paul Okatwa Odhiambo, dead ball master Noah Abich Odhiambo and keeper Vincent Khatili on loan from Vapor to boost survival chances.
7th; Sanneh announces his return with a brace against Coast Stima, for a 2-1 win at Camp Toyoyo, to hand the team only their third win of the season. Abich provided both assists.
12th; In the next game, Abich slots in an injury time penalty to hand City Stars a 2-1 win over Modern Coast for the team to post the first back-to-back win of the season.
17th; City Stars game away to Kenya Police away at Karuturi in Naivasha is abandoned, the game tied at 1-1, after the latter protests against a ‘dubious’ penalty and gun drama. The case later goes to the Federation and the ruling saw Police awarded the game on a 2-0 basis as City Stars coach Amboko and two players – keeper Ronny Kagunzi and center back Augustine Ochieng – slapped with 90-day bans. It was the end of their season.
21st; City Stars ends the month by giving up the lead four times, including a 3-1 advantage into the second half, to draw Fortune Sacco 4-4 at Toyoyo.
1st; The club announces roping in of online journalist Patrick Korir as CEO while also inviting back Neville Pudo as Team Manager
7th; Ligi Ndogo Technical Director Vladimir, a Serbian, joins the Technical bench, and he comes along with James Omondi, to boost the team’s survival chances. They kick off against Nairobi Stima at Hope Centre.
22nd; Bogey team St. Joseph’s routinely shocks City Stars 3-2 at Toyoyo despite playing with ten men from the 62nd minute following a red card to defender William Odunga. They led 2-0 inside the first five minutes.
27th; Two sublime Abich freekicks inside ten first half minutes sees City Stars led promotion chasing Ushuru 2-1 at half time who rallied to tie the game 2-2at the death. The draw ended Ushuru’s promotion dream.
1st; Abich scores a late long range freekick on a rainy Saturday evening to earn City Stars a 2-1 win over Kangemi United. While it all but secured the teams slot in the NSL, it virtually confirmed the relegation of their victims
9th; Davis Agesa scores the final goal of the season, a winning one at Hope Centre, as City Stars ends the season with a 2-1 win over hosts Kibera Black Stars. It followed on a 2-0 win over Migori Youth at the same venue four days earlier. The latest June wins saw the team end up 14th on the log with 39 points. Arthur Museve plays his final ten minutes at City Stars and retires to join the technical bench after a record 14 years of service as a player.
20th; New club offices unveiled at Bishops Court on Fourth Ngong Avenue.
30th; 16 players let go and 15 retained as the team starts the journey to the next season.
10th; Training starts, seven weeks to the new 2019 season.
12th; Sanjin Alagic from Bosnia and Herzegovina,a UEFA Pro coach, arrives to take up his role as head coach.
20th; First preseason friendly vs Komarock combined at Ruaraka. Ends 1-0 for City Stars. Peter Wainaina with the goal.
24th; Preseason game against Ligi Ndogo at Posta grounds cancelled due to poor surface.
27th; Second preseason friendly vs Hakati Sportiff at Camp Toyoyo. Ends 0-0. The coach spots their budding striker Vincent Okoth Otieno aka Jamaica who is invited to train with the team.
3rd; Team falls 1-0 to Premiership side Wazito in friendly at Ngong Vapor grounds
10th; City Stars remains winless after going down 1-0 to AFC Leopards at Hope Centre. Vincent Oburu pounced on an uncleared ball for the difference. Keeper Levis Opiyo proves himself in the game and is handed a one-year deal days later
15th; The team heads out for a ten-day preseason bonding camp in Kakamega. Friendly games with local sides in Mumias ended with two more against Premiership sides Kisumu AllStars (0-0) and Western Stima (3-2 loss) in Kisumu.
24th; Two friendly games conclude pre-season. The first against Dagoretti Santos at Hope Centre ends 0-0. The next, a Hope Centre derby against Vapor ends 3-2 in favor of NCS after a 0-0 half time draw.
27th; City Stars completes the signing of teenager Jamaica from Hakati Sportiff on a three year deal. He became the ninth and final season signing adding on to keeper Opiyo, left back Wesley Onguso, centre back Salim ‘Shitu’ Abdala, defender Cornelius Mwangi from Modern Coast Rangers, winger Nashon Thiosh Thiong’o from Mt. Kenya United, defensive midfielders Elvis Ojiambo Noor from Kibera Black Stars, Eric Cantona Ochieng from Wazito and Wycliffe Otieno from Kariobangi Sharks.
Anthony ‘Muki’ Kimani, back at the club after ten years, Stephen Mueni from Modern Coast Rangers and Jimmy Bageya – back for a sixth stint in ten years – were the other new signings. The new 12 added on to 15 retained from last season; keepers Ronny Kagunzi and Vincent Khatili, defenders Edwin Buliba, Kevin Okumu, Calvins Masawa, Noah Abich, Victor Okulu and Augustine Ochieng, midfielders Oliver Maloba, Peter Wainaina, Charles Otieno, David Gateri and Heritier Luvualu, strikers Ebrima Sanneh and Davis Agesa.
1st; City Stars starts season with 2-0 win over Shabana at Hope Centre handing coach Sanjin a fine start. Sanneh and Bageya scored on either half. The game saw eight of 12 new players feature in the game, six of them making their debut; Opiyo, Shitu, Mwangi, Cantona, Thiosh, Ojiambo and Mweni. Returning Muki earned a start.
9th; A second half brace by Sanneh, in a take-two against Vihiga Bullets, hands City Stars a 2-1 at Bukhungu, Kakamega for a second straight season win. Jamaica earned his debut for the team as a second half sub and marked it with an assist. The game was rained off the evening before with 13 minutes left with City Stars leading 1-0.
10th; Fate visited the homesteads of two Nairobi City Stars wingers Luvualu and Mweni after claiming a son and sibling, respectively, in the week ending Sunday 8 September.
18th; City Stars ends Bidco’s three game winning start with a 1-0 win at Thika. Jamaica started his first games and teed up Sanneh for the winner
23rd; First coastal trip earns three crucial points as early goals by Oliver Maloba and Jamaica led to a 2-1 win. City Stars ended the game a man short after a straight red card on defender Mwangi. Tactical changes saw big unit Wycliffe Otieno earn his debut
28th; City Stars score three goals on either half to clean out Northern Wanderers 6-0 at Toyoyo to end the month with four clean sheets and shoot to the top of the table with 16 points, one ahead of the chasing pack. A brace by David Gateri and one each from Sanneh, Maloba, Okumu and Bageya did the damage to the team egged out from Eldoret Youth.
6th & 16th; The team travels to Karuturi, Naivasha and picks all spoils with 3-2 and 2-1 wins over a tough Kenya Police and fancied Nairobi Stima, respectively.
11th & 27th; very late goals; a 94th minute header by Sanneh and penalty by Abich handed City Stars identical 2-1 wins over promoted APS Bomet at Toyoyo and Fortuna Sacco at Hope Centre, respectively.
24th; Two assistant coaches John Amboko and Tiellen Oguta – both sponsored by City Stars -graduate with CAF C Diploma licenses.
25th; FKF NSL report for September saw City Stars named team of the month, the second best in offense and defense, Sanjin named coach of the month, Muki named best is assists (4) and Jamaica second with three, and Sanneh best scorer with five goals.
27th: Mount Kenya comes from behind to tie City Stars 1-1 at Toyoyo ending the teams seven-game winning streak. The team however closed the month with 29-points, six ahead of the rest.
2nd: Team recovers from a goal down on 14 minutes and straight red card to skipper Muki on 20 minutes to see off a determined Migori Youth 2-1 at Toyoyo. A flicked header by Agesa and super goal from super sub Maloba deep in the second has completed the turnaround.
8th; Sanneh ends four game goal drought with a late penalty, for his eighth season goal, as City Stars hit Talanta 1-0 at Toyoyo.
11th; Nairobi City Stars embraces a Kshs. 750,000 sponsorship for the season from FKF after they entered a three-year partnership with leading betting firm Betika.
14th: Wazito walks over the team 4-1 in a friendly game at Toyoyo. Muki scored a consolation penalty in a game the coach tested the no so regular players
15th: NSL report at the end of Oct sees Muki named the best in assists, again. He had five, one ahead of prodigy Jamaica
23rd: Another coastal trip, another win. Agesa scored a brace and Bageya added one more, all in the second half, as City Stars troubled host Modern Coast Rangers 3-1 at Serani. They trailed the game 1-0 at half time. The win ended a two-game barren draw streak against Ushuru and Muranga SEAL
25th: Kshs 50,000 floated as the team goes in search of a team anthem. Initial deadline set for mid-December but later pushed to February 2020.
1st: NCS ended a three-year bad home patch to take down bogey team St. Joseph’s 2-0 in a round 17 match at Toyoyo. Skipper Muki, with an assist and goal was named MVP and was awarded a fine pair of boots by Dev Kumar Parmar of international firm Parmars, a Sports Law and Business company based in the UK and Spain
3rd: FKF nullified all results in the NSL involving Northern Wanderers, including 6-0 win by City Stars. The team was expelled from the league after disbanding. All goals in that game were all expunged from the scorers’ log.
11th: The team, accompanied by Real estate firm Lordship Africa and JJF family paid a courtesy call to Kamiti maximum prison. The team won an organized friendly 3-0 with goals from Mweni, Sanneh and a top up in the second half by Jakadingding Okulu.
14th: Black Stars ends City Stars 18-game unbeaten run into the season with a 1-0 at Toyoyo thanks to Sub Janyeez Otieno’s second half goal. Consequently, NCS settled for half the bounty of Kshs 20,000 and the newly introduced JJF Jamii Cup. The team ends the first leg with 43 points, and a seven-point cushion.
17th; Defender Abich bereaved; he loses his father after a long illness. Interment set for Sat 4 January 2020.
20th: Team beats Wazito 1-0 in a friendly game on Fri 20 to close the year on a high. Trialist Aziz Okaka scored the lone goal. It was the last activity of the year.
28th; The team’s kit for the second leg arrives for clearance from the UK