Third placed National Super League side, Nairobi Stima have conceded to have lost hope in the race for automatic promotion to the SportPesa Premier League.
With the first two teams set to be handed automatic promotion at the end of the season and with one slot already sealed by Western Stima, Nairobi Stima are third on the National Super League standings with 67 five points behind second placed KCB and head coach Ibrahim Shikanda believes their only promotion chance is in the KPL/FKF playoff. Stima bungled the chance to maintain the three point gap between them and KCB on Wednesday after being held by Western Stima to a one all draw, a result which left KCB a win away to promotion.
Should KCB beat FC Talanta in their next match, the bankers will seal the second spot and hence return to the top flight, leaving Nairobi Stima to dig deeper to the playoff which will pit them against the third from bottom team in the elite league. However, this will only come to pass if Stima beat Kenya Police in their next match since they are two points ahead of fourth placed Ushuru.
The one-all draw against Western Stima irked Shikanda and was at pains to admit that he had lost hopes in automatic qualification. He heavily criticised the officials who handled their match, saying they were partially to blame for the unwanted result.
He said: “I am now concentrating on the playoff since our chances of an automatic qualification are now gone. We had it until Wednesday but we sadly drew Western Stima to see KCB open a five-point gap which I think will be hard to close. They have a simple match before we play them in the final match and I am sure they can not afford to lose it. We were supposed to put off our counterparts with ease but the officials were on their side. We were denied two clear penalties and some calls were really questionable.”
Stima were course to a straight promotion with seven rounds to go after stretching their unbeaten run to 19 matches but faltered in the final rounds to record series of unwanted results which Shikanda attributes to “politics”.
He said their opponents were not happy with two Kenya Power sponsored clubs gaining promotion and his side happened to be the casualty. “ When they realised two Stima clubs were headed to the Premier League, a war was waged against us and we were being fought from all the corners. The playing unit was affected and we ended up performing dismally in crucial rounds of the league. We have also been victims of poor officiating but it’s not done, We still have a chance in the play-off. We have been edged out unfairly although we are not interested in launching a complain to the Football Kenya Federation.”