Reigning COPA Coca-Cola national champions, JMJ Academy, began their title defence in an unconvincing manner as the under-15 national championships began today at the World Hope Center in Kawangware.
JMJ were frustrated to a 1-1 draw by Central region outfit Angaza Youth whose defence stood firm from the off. JMJ lived up to their pre-match billing as favorites and did all but score a goal in the opening half as the two teams went for the breather on level terms.
The second half assumed the same shape with JMJ attacking and Angaza content with clearing their lines.
However, 7 minutes into the second half, the defending champions got the breakthrough through Mark Ochieng who planted the ball home after a goalmouth melee that involved Angaza keeper Jeremiah Maina spilling the ball.
Simpson Bryan almost doubled JMJ’s lead with a 30-yard strike but Maina was equal to the task palming the ball to safety.
As the game wore on, Shaban Baraza’s side harangued their opponents with great abandon but could not find the second goal thanks in part to some wasteful finishing by their frontmen and fine goalkeeping from Maina. Angaza looked dangerous on the counter and they managed to get the equalizer in the 50th minute through Victor Kamau. JMJ failed to muster any meaningful effort for the rest of the game as the Group ‘B’ opener ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Last year’s beaten finalists, Kisumu Lakers began their campaign seamlessly beating Tharaka Young Stars 2-0. Shavin Gunter opened his and Kisumu’s account in the first half gliding past Tharaka backline before slotting home. Collins Omondi’s second half volley from Gunter’s corner secured maximum points for Lakers as they took charge of Pool ‘A’.
In the ladies’ matches, Beijing Raiders raided Cherangany Starlets’ final third but could not beat the Rift sides’ custodian Nancy Chebet who almost singlehandedly ensured the game ended on a 0-0 draw.
Janet Nalisi missed a sitter for Shinyalu Girls but atoned for that almost immediately as she scored in a 1-0 win over Nairobi’s Kibra Queens.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Coast hopefuls Tana Boys will play Murhanda Boys while Tharaka will try to bounce back with a match against Kitale Youth. Kisumu Lakers will be favorites to bag another three points when they take on Young Muslims.
In the girls’ matches, Mombasa Starlets will take on Kirindara Starlets, Shinyalu will clash with Cherangany Starlets while there will also be the Nairobi County derby pitting Beijing Girls against Kibra Queens.
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