The tournament which has been running in the country for over 7 years was launched at a colourful ceremony at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Speaking during the launch of what is one of the longest-running youth football tournaments in the world, Coca-Cola Senior Marketing Manager Mona Karingi said, “We are glad as a company to be associated with this tournament which has produced some of the best players in world football. The likes of MacDonald Mariga, Danny Sserunkuma, Ronaldinho, Robert Lewandowski, and Javier Chicarito all started their careers participating in the COPA tournament.”
The tournament which features both boys and girls team who are less than 15 years will see teens set their sights on becoming Kenya’s and indeed the world’s next generation of football heroes.
This year’s COPA Coca-Cola tournament will be executed in 10 countries in Africa. The winning boys and girls teams in the Kenyan edition will walk away with Kshs. 500,000, runners-up Kshs. 200,000 and second runners-up Kshs. 100,000 each. The Most Valuable Players will be awarded with Kshs. 30,000 each with the best goalkeeper and top scorer walking home with Kshs. 20,000 each.
The tournament kicked off in earnest with 5 games played at the venue. Kitui Stars and Kyanika Girls were the biggest winners of the day. Kitui thrashed a hapless Makueni Boys outfit 6-0 in the opening match. Salim Ibrahim netted a brace before Wambua Mutie and Christopher Joseph also registered their names on the score sheet. The other two goals were scored by Ng’ang’a Mulwa and Nzuki Mutunga.
Kilonzo Ndanu and Peter Kalunda both netted a brace as county giants Kyanika Girls romped past Matithini 7-0. In other matches, last year’s provincial finalists Mukuyuni thumped Machakos Queens 4-0 while far-traveling Sultan Hamud were given a 3-0 humbling by newcomers Migwaini. Machakos Talents pipped Machakos Youth 2-1 in the last match of the day.
Other games were played in North Rift and North Coast.
Meanwhile the exhibition match between the Sport Journalists and the Machakos County team ended in a 3-2 win to the media. The scribes went 1-0 behind early in the half courtesy of Mohammed Abdala but Steve Obuya drew level five minutes later. Abdala netted his second before the breather. A rejuvenated Media team controlled the second half with Steve Ayoo finding the back of the net to make it 2-2 before Kevin Otieno netted the winning goal from the spot kick.
The COPA Coca-Cola games will be played every weekend with the National finals scheduled to take place in August.
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