SUDI, Kenya – Nzoia Sugar FC are yet to hit the smashing form that ranked them among the most feared teams in the country when they won the second division at canter to earn promotion to the SportPesa Premier League (SPL).
Under Bernard Mwalala, Nzoia roared to 28 victories, eight draws and two defeats in the 2016 National Super League to return to the top flight as one of the most feared sides in the country having amassed a record 92 points.
However, just over halfway through their first SPL campaign in 14 years, Nzoia are finding it hard to break into the top five having lost three times the number of games the lost the whole of last season.
This is in sharp contrast with how they announced their arrival to the SPL with a bang, dismantling champions Tusker FC 5-2 in the opening game before blowing hot and cold in their next 18 fixtures to settle for seventh on 27 in a run of six wins, six draws and six defeats.
Having taken stock of their see-saw performance thus far, Mwalala is keen on completing the season they were ranked as outside SPL title contenders in blistering fashion.
“The standout thing from last season is that we dominated all our home games and that is one area where have been failing this season. We have to take advantage of our home games,” the former Kenyan international stressed.
Only Kariobangi Sharks FC who were promoted alongside Nzoia managed to win at Sudi Stadium last season on the final day of the campaign when the result was academic.
Mwalala is out to beat their next home opponents, Chemelil Sugar FC, Sofapaka FC, Nakumatt FC and league leaders Gor Mahia FC as they embark on crawling the 10-point gap from the top.
Nzoia downed second-placed Posta Rangers FC 1-0 at Sudi on their last outing and Mwalala and his team have more time to prepare for their next clash following the postponement of midweek fixtures.
Mwalala joined Nzoia in December 2014 to succeed Alfred Imonje from Tanzanian side Coastal Union FC, where he was an assistant coach to Yusuf Chippo who also formerly managed the sugar millers.
The retired forward also played for the former league winners who were disbanded after winning the 2003 title. Mwalala also played for Uganda’s SC Villa and Tanzania’s Young African SC and Coastal Union FC.