By GILBERT WANDERA
Business at the Department of Defence (DOD) headquarters came to a near-standstill as Kenyan Premier League champions, Ulinzi, formally present the trophy to their superiors yesterday.
In a ceremony reminiscent of a military victory battle, the players, in full military regalia and joined by other counterparts, marched and danced with abandon before finally presenting the trophy to Chief of General Staff Jeremiah Kianga.
Team captain Stephen Ocholla, surrounded by other team-mates and guided by Warrant Officer 1 Bishar Ali, majestically marched upfront to present the huge trophy to a smiling Kianga at the podium. Do me, I do you: Mahakama’s Sammy Muraya (left) and Sofapaka’s Michael Kamadi [PHOTOS: STAFFORD ONDEGO /STANDARD]
Do me, I do you: Mahakama’s Sammy Muraya (left) and Sofapaka’s Michael Kamadi [PHOTOS: STAFFORD ONDEGO /STANDARD]
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After the presentation, the soldiers went around DOD twice with cameras clicking and temporarily caused a traffic snarl-up. A delighted Kianga congratulated the team for winning and promised that they would reward them and also support them in their African Champions League bid next season.
He said: "This victory has come as a result of your discipline which we urge you to maintain in future competitions. It makes us proud to be associated with you and we will continue to support you in your future endevours,"
"Perhaps the football administrators in the country can learn from your determination and hard work, which brought us this glory."
Team coach Benjamin Nyangweso said he wants to end the era of Kenyan teams doing poorly in the Champions League by qualifying for the second round of the continental competition.
"It is true that local clubs have not done well in the CAF competition, but we are out to end that. We have the experience and determination to go to the second round and we will seize the opportunity to do just that," he said.
Nyangweso said they are already plotting to defend the title next year and said he would strengthen the mid-field and striking force before the season opens.
Team captain Stephen Ocholla said they never doubted winning the trophy even after being held to a 1-1 draw by Red Berets in a result that meant the title chase would go to the last day.
Ocholla said: "With two games to go, we knew a draw and a win would give us the title so when we were held by Berets, it was not a shock to us. We were sure of overcoming Karuturi Sports to win the title."
Ocholla thanked the military and all their fans for standing behind them during the competition.