Premier League apprentice Brian Otieno crowned Nzoia Sugar's impressive start to top-flight football by winning the March Sportpesa Footballer of the Month Award. Otieno netted a brace in the newbies opening day 5-2 rout of holders Tusker then staged a remarkable show against Mathare United in their scoreless draw to emerge the month's best.
The 21 year-old became the first winner of the award in 2017 and carried home a 49 inch LG Smart television and Sh100,000 alongside a personalized trophy. He also became the third defender to win the award after initial triumphs by Karim Nzigiyimana of Gor Mahia and Sherif Mohammed of Bandari. Gor Mahia duo Kenneth Muguna and Geoffrey Walusimbi made the final shortlist from an initial list of nine players nominated by football journalists.
They however fell short of the necessary votes to land the gong as Otieno garnered 17 votes to join a privileged few who have won the award since inception in 2015. Walusimbi polled 14 while Muguna placed third on 11 votes. Other players who were nominated for the award but fell short included Moses Odhiambo of Sofapaka, Thika United defender Christopher Oruchum, Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza of Gor Mahia and Ovella Ochieng of Kariobangi Sharks.
Nzoia Sugar led the standings after the first weekend of action but ended up 2nd on the table with four points at the close of March. The result against league defending champions left tongues wagging among fans and Nzoia Sugar a marked club by fellow top-flight teams.
The going has been anything but easy for the newbies but the team hopes to fight elation from Otieno's triumph in their bid to stay up. "I'm very excited at being awarded. It's the first time I'm getting something like this and frankly i'm overjoyed. I dedicate it to my teammates without whom I would not have won it. Our results have not been the best since then but hopefully we shall get back to winning ways." Otieno offered in his laid back demeanor.
Nzoia assistant coach Vincent Sifuma heaped praises on the young striker saying he is destined to greater things. "He is new to the league but he's already made a mark He is capable of developing into a better player who can achieve a lot. I hope the award stirs up the rest so they put more effort." Mwalala said