|Kenya keeper Edwin Mukolwe makes a save against Malawi|
Kenya’s COPA Coca-Cola U17 team narrowly missed out on the medals after finishing fourth as curtains came down on the 2012 COPA inter-country international camp tournament at St. Alban’s College in Pretoria, South Africa.
Kenya collected three points on the final day of the tournament after easing past Central East and West Africa (CEWA) team by a solitary goal from Mohamed “Kafupi” Said.
Kenya was among three other teams that finished on 11 points, the other two being CEWA and Mozambique. Zambia’s Chipolopolo stars lifted the trophy after amassing 16 points, two ahead of runners-up Tanzania and a further four ahead of third-placed Malawi who finished on 12 Points.
“This was a great team effort. The players gave their all in this tournament and you could see they all worked their socks off in all the matches,” said Coach Arthur Apiyo who promised there’s more to come.
Kenya narrowly lost three matches against Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique by a solitary goal. Had they converted some clear-cut opportunities, the boys could have won the tournament as they had earlier promised.
“We had a good win against a very strong Tanzanian team, we easily beat Uganda and CEWA, both very good teams. We came close to beating champions Zambia as well as Nigeria. We never gave ourselves an excuse for not performing well,” said Arthur.
Uganda finished third from bottom with 10 points, two ahead of Nigeria who finished with 8. Zimbabwe finished rock bottom with 7 points.
“We tried our level best but luck was not on our side. But I know the future is bright for this team because there’s definitely talent amongst us as well as the fighting spirit,” noted goalkeeper Edwin Mukolwe.
His competitor for the position between the posts Stephen Ogweno had kind words for the coach. “We were 16 players and the coach gave us all a chance to shine by consistently rotating the team but we all gelled nevertheless,” said Ogweno who was between the posts for the games against Malawi and CEWA.
The Kenyan team will travel back on Saturday.
Meanwhile two players from Kenya will feature for the COPA All-Star. Captain Haron Nyakha who plays the defensive midfield position and central defender Sadam Abdulahi were named in the All-Star team. “We are thankful to the team because we couldn’t have made it here were it not for the team effort,” said Nyakha who is a student at Kakamega High School.
“They have stood out amongst us and we will be supporting them all the way,” said Alfred Wekesa who scored one of the best goals of the tournament.
The All-Star team will play against Supersport United U19 team on Friday. Talent scouts from the club have been scouting for talent during the tournament and have pinpointed two Kenyan players, Omar Mwinyi and Eugene Moses.
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