Kenya takes on mighty Ghana as Airtel Africa championship kicks off
Kenya ‘A’ boys team will take on Ghana in the opening match of the Pan African soccer tourney—Airtel Rising Stars Africa Soccer Championship—today at the City Stadium. The U-17 team, which was selected at the just concluded Airtel Rising Stars national Term ‘2B’ games in Mombasa, has been in residential camp under the tutelage of Johnen Makumi of Ofafa Jericho High School.
The Kenya team will be counting on the experience of Kakamega High school’s national U-20 fullback Sammy Meja. The Green Commandoes star will be keen to atone for the disappointing showing at the national games which saw his team bundled out at the semi-finals by eventual winners St Anthony.
The Kenya ‘B’ team is coached by Dan Otieno of Kisumu day secondary. The two girls teams will be handled by Lucas Bwire and Fred Serenge. Ghana should prove a difficult opponent for Kenya going by its impressive record in the age-category competitions. Ghana, a continental power house and two-time Fifa U-17 World Cup champions will be hoping to make a good start against the hosts Kenya who will be counting on home ground advantage.
16 boys and 12 girls’ teams have been drawn in four and three pools respectively of four teams each. Kenya 1 are in Pool A alongside Ghana and Malawi and Madagascar while Kenya 2 are pitted against Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, and Sierra Leone. Pool B has Nigeria, DR Congo, Niger and Chad while Pool C comprise Zambia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Gabon. The Girls teams have been pooled into 3 groups with Kenya (1) in Pool ‘A’ alongside Uganda, Malawi and Sierra Leone. Kenya (2) will tackle Ghana and Burkina Faso and DR Congo in Pool ‘C0 while Pool ‘B’ has Nigeria, Zambia, Chad and Gabon.
The fixtures for the preliminary rounds of the tourney, which will be played on league format basis, will provide several mouthwatering matches. “The inaugural U-17 tournament will provide an opportunity for budding stars to showcase and gauge their raw talent with the best in the continent,” said Michael Okwiri, Airtel Africa Vice President in charge of communication. The group matches will be staged every day, from tomorrow till Friday at St Mary’s School, while the final will be played at the City Stadium on Saturday.