Written off and dismissed as mere participants at the beginning of the tournament, National Super League leaders Vihiga United are flirting with glory after advancing to the GOtv Shield semi-finals at the weekend.
Vihiga United, sponsored by the Vihiga County government, stunned holders Tusker 2-0 at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday to storm into the last four of the competition for the first time in their history.
The team, which includes veteran Charles Okwemba, Marti Imbalambala and Barnabas Tiema, is coached by former AFC Leopards duo of Edward Manoah and Francis Xavier. Manoah and Xavier have guided the team to the summit of the NSL with 47 points.
Losing, it seems, is not in the day-to-day vocabulary of the Vihiga-based team as demonstrated by their league record that has seen them lose once in their 20 games so far this season.
They will now play AFC Leopards in next month’s semis in a game that will be another daunting test of their resolve to win a major competition.
“We underwent serious emotional trauma during the General Election because our greatest benefactor (former governor Moses Akaranga) was voted out of office, and we were left facing a very uncertain future,” Manoah, who was sent to the stands during the match, told Nation Sport.
“That is why this win is very important. It will stabilise the players’ minds and motivate them heading into the next stage.”
SportPesa Premier League debutants Kariobangi Sharks are the other surprise in the semis having dispatched Eldoret Youth 5-0 in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
AFC Leopards also displayed their hunger for the Cup after they thrashed second tier side Wazito 7-1 to storm the tournament’s last four.
Ingwe will now play Vihiga while Kariobangi Sharks take on Sony Sugar in the semi-finals of this competition whose winner will pocket Sh2 million and also earn the right to represent Kenya in the Caf Confederation Cup next year.
AFC Leopards v Vihiga United
Sony Sugar v Kariobangi Sharks
Vihiga will paly Leopards while Kariobangi Sharks take on Sony Sugar in the semi-finals.