They may not have won a match at the COPA international camp tournament in South Africa but the young Kenyan COPA U15 team will be arriving home tomorrow, Monday, with their heads held up high.
The team of 15 players and 3 officials will depart OR Tambo International airport at exactly 10.10am and will touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport four hours later.
“It’s been a good learning experience for our young players. They played teams which were much senior to them but not in a minute did they think of quitting and they fought throughout,” said coach Atanasi Wamalwa.
Kenya was drawn in the group that included Uganda and Zimbabwe who would later contest the finals which the latter won 3-0. The Harambee Warriors began on a wrong footing losing to Zimbabwe 6-1 before battling to a barren draw against Uganda Cranes.
Coach Atanasi’s charges surprisingly lost 3-0 to Kazakhstan but pushed Algeria to the limit before going down 2-1, Musa Masika netting Kenya’s consolation goal. “We gave it our all but the other teams were much older and powerful than us. We take this as a learning experience though and hopefully we will remain as a unit and prepare for the next challenge,” said John Ochieng, one of Kenya’s standout performers at the camp.
“We came here as a team, battled as a unit and we travel back knowing we did our country proud given the circumstances,” noted captain Lloyd Kim.
The performance of the Kenyan team didn’t escape the eyes of talent scouts at the tournament with lead scout Caesar Maphala lauding the team for their effort and playing style. “They were a joy to watch, their football brain clicked from the moment they entered the pitch and realized they were beaten for height so they kept the ball spreading on the ground. This was a very impressive team,” said Maphala who picked Musa Masika for the All-Star team.
Masika continued with his impressive form by starring for the All-Star team in their match against Mamelodi Sundwons U15 team. The 15-year-old entered the fray in the second half and helped steady the All-Star midfield.
The COPA Coca-Cola All-Star team edged out Sundowns 1-0 in an entertaining exhibition match played at the High Performance Center in Pretoria, South Africa.
The All-Star team which was made up of 16 best players drawn from the international camp tournament scored the solitary goal in the first half courtesy of Zimbabwean skillful winger Tatendae Tumba.
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