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Jaguars survive by the skin of their teeth

Last updated 3 years ago | By Elizabeth Mburugu

Wazalendo Steve Liyaya(l)and Western Jaguar Ken Ashimasi fight for the ball when they played Premier Men at City-park yesterday. ON 15/10/2016 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE ON 15/10/2016 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Western Jaguars secured their place in the Kenya Hockey Union men's Premier League after winning the four-team playoffs at City Park Stadium at the weekend.

Jaguars had been relegated following their dismal show last season, but got a reprieve after Wazalendo Youth turned down a promotion offer to the top tier.

Battling for the single slot alongside Jaguars were Bay Club of Kisumu and Mvita XI of Mombasa, who were relegated in 2016 and 2015. Multimedia University (MMU) was the fourth team in the promotion battle. The Rongai-based students finished third behind winners Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and Wazalendo Youth in the national league. TUK took their elevation with pride, while Wazalendo Youth opted to remain in the lower tier.

Jaguar, who are based in Kakamega, then made good use of their second chance as they won their round-robin matches to seal a place in the premier league. Jaguars player, who also doubles up as their coach, Michael Malungu, said signs of playing in the lower league were evident, but when a chance for redemption came their way, they were not ready to let it go.

"We finished second-last in the 2016 season, which left us with no choice, but to fight for promotion in the lower league because demotion was inevitable. However, when we were given a second chance, we vowed to make it count; play our hearts out and reclaim our place in top flight hockey," Malungu told Feverpitch.

He added that having created a place for themselves in the highly competitive premier league, they will now strategise on their game plan ahead of the new season, which begins early next month.

"We now shift focus to our plan for the new season because we have to come up with a working strategy so as to avoid finding ourselves in a similar difficult situation like last season."

Determined to stay in the country's top league, Jaguars launched their campaign on a high as they defeated Bay 4-0. They beat MMU 3-1 in their second match, before sealing their continued premier league stay with a 4-0 drubbing of Mvita.

Mvita struggled in all their matches, their best show being a 1-1 draw against Bay. MMU lost to Jaguars to finish second.

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