Nairobi City Stars kicked off their 2020/21 FKF Premier League campaign on a bright note after seeing off visiting Nzoia Sugar FC 2-0 at the Narok Stadium on Sunday 29 November 2020.
Powerful forward Davis Agesa, one of 12 players making their Premier League debut for City Stars on the day, delivered two assists that skipper Anthony Muki Kimani and Oliver Maloba finished off in a two minute blitz to settle the contest of two sides that had never met before at any level.
Muki, playing his first Premier League game for City Stars since 2009, and the first top flight game since 2016 (at Bandari), started it off in the 16th minute when he opened up to receive Agesa’s cross.
With a view of goal, he hit a diagonal shot to the far post from the edge of the box to beat a diving Mustapha Oduor in Nzoia’s goal.
To feed Muki, Agesa had received the ball from Erick Ombija who knocked down a long goal kick from City Stars keeper Steven Njunge Ndungu.
Even before the celebrations could settle, Agesa was at it again after intercepting a backward pass from Nzoia’s Leonard Kasembeli to square a pass for Maloba who, once in the box, slammed the ball home at the far post for only his third Premier league goal for City Stars.
After the quickfire goals the tempo of the game slowed drastically after a consistent drizzle that hit Narok town.
There was a turning point ten minutes after the restart when a swift Gaetan Masha was awarded a penalty after City Stars centre back Salim Shitu Abdalla was adjudged to have hacked him down the flying lad in the box.
Cliff Kasuti stepped up to take the spot kick but an agile Njunge in City Stars goal tamed his shot leaving left back Herit Mungai to clear the lines before Nzoia Sugar forwards could pounce on the rebound.
Maloba could have finished the game with a brace in the dying minutes but he shockingly skied a sure pass, while unmarked in the box, that came from the left from teenager Vincent Jamaica Otieno.
“This was the kind of start we had been hoping for. It was an important one against a solid Nzoia Sugar side, a team we had never faced before in a venue we had never played in. It was a historic game, one that sets the tone for the season.” said club CEO Patrick Korir after the game
It was the first Premier League game for Bosnian coach Sanjin Alagic who guided the team to promotion last season.
“There’s a great psychological importance in winning the starting game. It prepares you for the rest of the season and I am excited that we achieved it against an experienced KPL team.” said Sanjin
Three teenage debuts
In the historic game, just two of the starting players – Muki and Maloba had previously played a Premier League game for City Stars.
Eight of the other nine starters had Premier League experiences but for the first time donned City Stars colors in the top flight.
Save for Erick Ombija who was substituted in the second half, the other seven; Steve Njunge, Herit Mungai Atariza, Kenedy Onyango, Salim Abdalla, Wycliffe Otieno, Peter Opiyo and Davis Agesa all earned full debuts in Simba wa Nairobi colors. Sven Yidah, with 97 previous appearances with Kariobangi Sharks, donned his City Stars colors in the second half.
Teenager Elvis Noor Ojiambo, signed from Kibera Black Stars mid last year on a long term deal was the only player in the starting 11 to make his top flight debut.
Two other teenagers joined his status – his sibling Timothy Noor Ouma and Vincent Otieno Okoth who came on as second half subs for Maloba and Erick Ombija, respectively.
Third winning start
Prior to the starting win against Nzoia, City Stars had only won just two starting games in 12 seasons between 2004 and 2016.
The team managed a 3-1 win over KCB at City Stadium in the 2005/6 season (as World Hope) and later a 2-0 (awarded) win over AFC Leopards at Hope Centre in the 2009 season.
Four draws were the starting results in the 2004/5, 2008, 2010 and 2016 seasons while six losses invited the team to the 2006/7 season as well as the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons.
With the Nzoia Sugar game now recorded, Nairobi City Stars now shifts focus to KCB in their next game set for Friday 4th December 2020 at a yet to be confirmed venue.
Nairobi City Stars: 23. Steve Njunge (GK), 28. Herit Mungai Atariza, 25. Kenedy Onyango, 4. Salim Abdalla, 22. Wycliffe Otieno, 2. Elvis Noor Ojiambo (18. Sven Yidah-66′), 10. Peter Opiyo, 30. Anthony Kimani, 21. Oliver Maloba (20. Timothy Noor Ouma-83′), 24. Erick Ombija (9. Vincent Otieno Okoth -61′), 11. Davis Agesa
Unused Subs: 1. Elvis Ochoro (GK), 12. Edwin Buliba, 7. Rodgers Okumu, 8. Calvin Masawa
Not considered: 32. Ezekiel Odera (travelled to Narok as backup), 29. Ebrima Sanneh, 17. Yusuf Mukisa Lubowa, 3. Charles Otieno (injuries), 27. Azizi Okaka, 19. Jimmy Bageya, 16. Jacob Osano (sickness), 5. Wesley Onguso, 15. John Kamau
Technical bench: Sanjin Alagic (Head Coach), Nihad Nalbantic, Noah Abich, John Amboko (assistant coaches), Brian Odongo (Physio)
Yellow cards: 10. Peter Opiyo-53′
Nzoia Sugar FC: 23. Mustapha Oduor, 30. Moses Mwale, 25. Dennis Wanjala, 6. Gabriel Wandera, 17. Emmanuel Esekon,13. Kevin Juma, 10. Cliff Kasuti (34. Felix Oluoch-82′), 32. Leonard Kasembeli, 33. Philip Muchuma (29. Eric Otieno-82′), 3. Gaetan Masha, 20. Felicien Okanda
Unused subs: 15. Humphrey Katasi, 2. John Munanai, 27. Kevin Maliachi, 11. Dan Musamali, 24. Ian Simiyu
Technical bench: Peter Mwaura (Head coach), John Muraya (Team Manager), Mathias Onyango, Peter Gin (Trainers), Amir Magwara (Physio)
Match Officials: Damaris Kimani (MC), Hosea Omondi (Centre Ref), Churchill Omondi (AR 1), Adan Tadicha (AR 2), Anthony Ogwayo (Reserve Ref)