• Kisumu narrowly defeated Catholic Monks 14-11 in extra time during semis while Bulls beat hosts USIU 22-16 in another closely contested match.
•Kisumu and Western Bulls will replace Strathmore Leos and Mean Machine who were relegated to the KRU Championship.
Silverstone Kisumu RFC and Western Bulls are relishing their return to Kenya Cup.
In Saturday’s KRU Championship semi-finals Kisumu narrowly defeated Catholic Monks 14-11 in extra time while Bulls also beat hosts USIU 22-16 in another closely contested match.
At the Catholic University of East Africa grounds in Langata, Lenny Obiero scored a sudden death penalty to give Kisumu a deserved 14-11 victory. The teams were deadlocked at 11-11 at full time.
“I’m happy we have returned to Kenya Cup after three seasons in the KRU Championship. Credit to the boys, they gave it their all,” said Kisumu coach Howard Okwemba.
He added: “My focus now is on the KRU Championship final against hosts Western Bulls in Kakamega next week. We want to lift the KRU Championship trophy.”
Coach Okwemba, a former Western Bulls, said he will beef up the squad ahead of the Kenya Cup season.
“We are definitely going to scout for more players because the competition in Kenya Cup is on another level,” he said.
His Bulls' counterpart Bram Shikanda said the semifinal was their most important match of the season because they were just 80 minutes away from Kenya Cup.
“I instilled a fighting spirit in the boys. We were superior in set pieces and bulldozed them in scrums making it easier for us to control the game,” Okwemba said.
He said he will also strengthen the squad ahead of the Kenya Cup return. “My target is to remain in Kenya Cup and that is why we want to strengthen the team in some departments,” said the coach.
On the final game against Kisumu, Shikanda said: “We are going for a win against Kisumu. They beat by one point in the second and we drew in the first round so this time we want to revenge,” said Shikanda. The team was relegated from Kenya Cup in 2017.
Kisumu and Western Bulls will replace Strathmore Leos and Mean Machine who were relegated to the KRU Championship.
The promotion of the two teams to the top tier league brings the total number of teams outside Nairobi to five in Kenya Cup. Others are Kabras Sugar, Nakuru and Menengai Oilers.
At the same time, Northern Suburbs are the KRU Nationwide champions. Suburbs won the title without kicking the ball after their rivals Eldoret RFC failed to show up for the final game at the Catholic University of East Africa in Langata.
Suburbs and Eldoret will next season play in the KRU Championship, replacing relegated Ngong Warriors and Kitale RFC.