It was a weekend of upsets in the COPA Coca-Cola Coast provincial finals after minnows Malindi United Academy from North Coast overcame the odds to grab the boys’ national finals slot while Kaloleni Queens took the ladies’ honours.
North Coast side Malindi powered past their counterparts Kilifi United Academy 3-1 in a surprising all North Coast final after the two teams shocked South Coast sides Mombasa Stars and Mombasa Heroes in the semis. Baraka Kasere found the back of the net either side of Ali Hassan’s goal for the Malindi based side while Kilifi grabbed their consolation goal via David Kazungu.
Heroes and Stars were odds on favorites to fight for the national finals slots but were given a reality check by the underdog North Coast teams who although inferior in ball possession and general play were more clinical in front of goal, something that could barely be said of their conquered opponents. The first match pitted Kilifi United against Mombasa Heroes which ended 1-0 in favour of Kilifi, Malcolm Thoya grabbing the all important goal.
Eventual winners, Malindi, got to the finals after upsetting outright favorites Mombasa Stars 5-3 on post-match penalties after the two teams could only play to a barren draw in normal time. Malindi players scored all their penalties while Said Rashid and Maingi Muthoka failed to convert for Stars.
The girls’ slot went to Kaloleni Queens from South Coast who beat North Coast side Malindi Action Ladies 3-2 on post-match penalties. Malindi won their semi-final clash against Kwale Queens courtesy of a Judith Hajila solitary goal in the first half while Kaloleni Queens also registered a 1-0 win over Muungano, Faith Ndoro netting the only goal of the match.
Kaloleni Queens and Malindi United Academy teams broke into song and dance upon realizing they had earned the right to represent Coast in the national finals slated for Nairobi in July while their opponents left to fight another day.
“We are extremely pleased we have made it to the national finals. This is like a dream come true not only for my boys and the team but to North Coast as a whole,” noted Malindi coach Fred Muinde. “We have been playing second fiddle to South Coast teams but this win shows the tide is slowly but surely changing,” he added.
Muinde’s Malindi United will now retreat into serious training as they wait for other regions like Rift, Nyanza, Eastern and national finals hosts Nairobi among others who will be playing their provincial finals in the coming weeks.
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