For the last three seasons, Nairobi City Stars have survived the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) chop on the last day.
But their nine lives seem to have elapsed this season as their survival chances hang by a thread. Three points behind 14th-placed KCB and a massive seven goal difference leaves City Stars with more than a mountain to climb ahead of their final game against Mathare United on Saturday.
Having flirted with relegation for the entire season, the Kawangware-based side’s nine-year stay in the top flight seems to be coming to an end.
Their only hope lies in an unlikely arithmetic. They have to cut the seven-goal deficit between them and KCB, and hope the bankers lose against Nakuru All Stars.
That looks like a far fetched dream and even KCB are not losing sleep over it. The bankers face Nakuru, an already relegated side while City Stars play Mathare who are eyeing a top-eight slot putting the odds very much against the latter.
“Realistically, City Stars cannot beat Mathare by more than seven goals and we cannot also lose heavily to Nakuru All Stars. Mathare are looking for a top-eight finish and they will take this game seriously,” said KCB coach Rishadi Shedu.
“It will also be tricky for us against Nakuru All Stars because they have nothing to lose and they will throw everything at us. Most of those players will want to market themselves so as to get a premier league team next season and will thus put their best foot forward. We want to do ourselves a favour by winning or even getting a point and care less what results City Stars post,” the tactician added.
City Stars already looked to have thrown in the towel as after their loss to Muhoroni Youth last week, coach Robinson Ofwuoko seemed to have started preparing for second tier football next season.
“We leave it to God and see how things turn. We will just play to enjoy ourselves,” Ofwuoko said.
Most pundits have blamed City Stars’ weak financial base as the reason for their struggles given they lack a sponsor being a community club.
Countless times this season, their players have staged sit-ins over unpaid salaries and allowances and even threatened to boycott matches.