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January 17, 2019

Double joy as Kenya wins inaugural girls, boys U16 COPA Coca Cola Africa titles

Team Kenya at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, on Saturday, December 15, 2018. /COURTESY
Team Kenya at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, on Saturday, December 15, 2018. /COURTESY

Kenya scooped both the boys and girls titles of the inaugural Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday at Afraha stadium, Nakuru.

The boys' team represented by St Anthony, Kitale, emerged 3-2 winners on post-match penalties over Nigeria, after playing to a barren draw in regulation time in the well balanced affair.

The match started on a high tempo with both sides showing urgency for early goals. The fireworks kicked off in the ninth minute with Kenya's danger man Jacob Onyango founding the side net with Nigerian keeper Aluko Moses well beaten.

Kenyan midfield led by Wisdom Yana, Lucas Maina and Rashid Issa dazzled the crowd with deft touches, keeping the ball away from the Nigerians on most occasions.

There deft touches could not, however amount to decisive forward passes as the opponents held on. David Leon missed Haron Ruto’s corner kick in the 12th minute by a whisker as the ball went begging.

The West Africans gave as much as they received with the attackline comprising of Omodara Olamilekan, Omeke Jerry and Gift Williams troubling the Kenyan defense on the break.

Emuria parried Omeke’s goal bound shot for a fruitless corner in the 22nd minute. The sizeable crowds urged the home boys to push forward, with Isukuti drums reaching crescendo on the stands.

Kumater Shina forced another superb save from keeper Emuria with a hard shot in the 33rd minute, but the Kenyan custodian was equal to the task.

Jacob Onyango’s shot was again stopped by Nigeria keeper Moses Aluko’s block in a one-on-one as the first half came to a close.

The second half equally kicked off on a high tempo with Kenya's David Leon’s effort going skyward while defender Salim Badi saved the Kenyan side blushes by clearing the ball off the line following an error by keeper Emuria that almost gifted Henry Williams the opener.

Kenya captain Cedric Muchina missed a huge chance shooting over the bar while clear on goal in the 53rd minute.

Nigeria's keeper Aluko pulled some late top notch saves to deny Onyango and Rashid in the dying minutes to send the game to the lotteries.

Haron Kibiwott, David Leon, Isaiah Abwal, were on target for Kenya, while Lucas Maina and Rashid Issa missed.

Kumater Shina and Omodara Olamilekan scored for Nigeria while Williams Gift and Mohamed Hussaini’s efforts were saved by Emuria.

Omeke Jerry's shot went wide to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Kenya coach Peter Mayoyo said he was happy to have clinched the maiden tournament as his game plan worked well against the strongest opponent in the finals.

“Nigeria were strong and we had to avoid conceding in the first half so as to pile pressure on them in the second half, fortunately we won on penalties which we had trained for,” Mayoyo said.

His Nigerian counterpart Gilbert Igwe said they were contented with reaching the finals, as the penalties would have gone either side. “We played well but the Kenyans were lucky in the penalties and I have to congratulate them for pushing us to the wall,” Igwe said.

Emuria who conceded only one goal in five matches scooped the golden glove, while his team mate Jacob Onyango emerged top scorer.

Nigerian midfielder Omeke Jerry was voted the most valuable player of the 12 team tournament.

Meanwhile, in the girls’ category, hosts Nangili Girls beat their only opponents Zimbabwe 1-0 to complete the clean sweep, with a 3-0 aggregate score having won 2-0 in the opening day.

The all-important goal was scored by Mercy Njeri in the 18th minute.

Earlier, Botswana beat Zambia 5-4 on post match penalties to win bronze medal after playing to 1-1 draw in regulation time.

Isaac Banda put the Zambians ahead, before Lekhutile Leatile restored parity for the Tswana’s, to ensure the Southern Africa affair was settled on post-match penalties.

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