|Ambira high player (right) tussle for the ball with a Chavakali player in a Copa match|
Nyanza’s Ambira High became the first team to qualify for the COPA Coca-Cola national quarterfinals after forcing a barren draw with Nairobi’s JMJ Academy as the finals for the U-17 youth football tourney entered its second day in Kisumu. The two teams kept the fans at the edge of their seat with a highly intense match that saw Ambira striker Aaron Nyakha and JMJ coach Shaban Baraza dismissed.
Ambira captain Bernard Ochieng’ was impregnable in defence and his commanding display must have caught the eyes of the scouts present at the tournament. The draw gives Ambira four points from two matches after defeating Chavakali 3-0 in the opening game on Sunday. Chavakali and JMJ will meet to decide who else qualifies for the quarters from the group.
Meanwhile Gituru High’s John Gatonye scored a brace to steer his team to a 2-1 win over Mombasa United.
The two teams had an entertaining match in the first half which saw Mombasa United hit the post twice inside the opening two minutes. However, it was Gituru who took the lead against the run of play when Gatonye latched onto a through pass and hit a low shot past Mombasa keeper Maanun Arafat.
The goal sparked Mombasa to life but all their running and effort were undone by some poor finishing from their front men. Gatonye on the other hand was proving to be a menace to the United defence and he extended his team’s lead at the quarter-hour mark when he perfectly timed his run behind Mombasa’s defence and lobbed the ball past Arafat to put his team in control.
Mombasa pulled one back before the interval when Seif Ramadhan won and converted a penalty after being pulled down in the box by Gituru’s Dennis Maosa.
The second half was evenly fought out with Mombasa United having the clearest of chances but some fine goalkeeping from Gituru keeper Ethan Mwangi kept them away as the game ended 2-1 to Gituru high.
In the second match of the day, Lasalle Youth captain Victor Juma led from the front as he scored a hat-trick in the second half to give his team a 3-1 win over Ainul Qamar.
Qamar drew the first blood courtesy of a long range effort from Yahya Ahmed. The team from North Eastern were arguably the better one in the first half but ran out of steam in the second half, allowing Juma and his charges to come from a goal down and nick the win.
The COPA national finals will continues this whole week with the finals set for Sunday 28 August.
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