Kathungi Boys and St. Anthony’s Kitale, the Eastern and Nzoia boys’ football champions respectively began their title defenses on a high, winning their opening matches as the regional term 2B games began on Wednesday morning in Kitui.
Kitale’s St. Anthony’s came from behind to beat arch rivals Kakamega High School 2-1 at the Lodwar Primary School.
Kakamega, christened the ‘Green commandos’ had arrived at the match venue in huge hype, coming in with a flight courtesy of the school’s old boys association but the flare could not translate on the pitch.
Harambee Stars under-20 striker James Mazembe had given Kakamega a dream start, but a fight from St. Anthony’s saw them wave the imminent win goodbye.
Paul Esiemi grabbed a brace, a goal in either half as the defending champions qualified for the semis, having earlier beaten Lokichar High with the same scoreline.
Moses Kidegwa, the St. Anthony’s coach played down the win, saying their focus remains on getting to the final.
“It is not something new for me to beat Kakamega. I have always beaten them. I am glad with how we played, it was a good display and I am happy we are in the semis. We take a step at a time and hopefully get to retain our title,” he told Sports News Arena.
In other boys matches played on Wednesday, Butula were 1-0 winners over Lokichang, the same score-line Bukembe won over Lokichar High School. Kapenguria Boys were the highest winners of the day with a 3-0 whitewash of Ebwalio.
Wiyeta edge out Bishop Njenga
In the girls’ category, defending champions Wiyeta Girls were made to work hard before finally picking a 1-0 win over Archbishop Njenga.
Former national and East Africa champions Tartar were also put through a tough duel by Brenda Girls from Bungoma before winning via the same score-line.
Mudavadi Girls picked the biggest win in the girls’ category, winning 3-0 against Uhuru.
In the Eastern Region, defending boys’ champions Kathungi showed their intent by narrowly beating Samburu’s Nyiro 3-2. They came from a goal down before Ali Seid picked a hatrick with Nyiro attempting a futile late comeback.
“Nyiro has always given us a hard time because both in 2013 and 2014, they almost made us miss out on the nationals and today, we did not expect an easy match. Tactically we were better today and this victory in the first match gives us confidence to go on and try defend our title,” Ibrahim Naika, the Kathungi coach said.
Last year’s runners up Kamiu from Embu were forced to a four-all draw by St. Daniel from Tharaka Nithi in an exciting end to end affair.
Isiolo Boys, one of the teams to watch in the region were emphatic in their opening match, winning 3-1 against Nyangara Boys.
In the girls’ category, Embu’s St. Jude were 1-0 winners over Moi Girls from Marsabit while Mukothima from Tharaka Nithi whitewashed Embu’s Gategi 4-0. The latter also lost their second match, going down by a solitary goal to Gatutu.
Laiser set to defend title
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan region finals are expected to kick off on Thursday morning with defending champions Laiser Hill ready to fight for the defense of their crown. The Kajiado champions will begin their campaign against Mvuti from Machakos.
Coach Antony Kirimi is confident they have prepared well. “We expect very stiff competition because there are very good teams this time round. We have had some very good preparation and I believe taking part in the Kajiado County League has made us stronger,” Kirimi said.
They will be looking on the trio of midfielder Musa Masika, younger brother to Harambee Stars winger Ayub Masika as well as Kennedy Owino and David Owino who were part of Kenya’s Under-20 national team.
Upper Hill who lost the title to Laiser last year on post-match penalties are breathing revenge and have vowed to give their all to recapture the crown.
The opening matches will be played at the Nyayo National Stadium while other matches will be hosted at the Upper Hill School as well.