COPA Coca-Cola defending champions, JMJ Academy have been drawn in a tough group that will see them face Western region giants Murhanda Youth and new Coast provincial champions Tana Boys.
JMJ who won last year’s finals with a 3-1 defeat of Kisumu Lakers landed in Group B which will also involve Angaza Boys from Central Region.
JMJ qualified for the nationals after beating off the challenge of Makadara Juniors in the Nairobi provincial playoffs.
Last year’s beaten finalists’ Kisumu Lakers were drawn in Group A alongside Rift Valley’s Kitale Youth with the two teams favorites to emerge out of the group which also has Young Muslims from North Eastern and Eastern’s Tharaka Stars.
In the girls’ draw, Nairobi duo Beijing Raiders and Kibra Queens were paired together in Group ‘A’. New Western provincial champions, Shinyalu Girls also landed in the same group with Rift’s Cherangani Starlets the fourth member. Beijing and Kibra will be favorites to top the group but Shinyalu Girls are the dark horses.
Nyamira Ladies who dethroned Kisumu Queens in Nyanza will make their national finals debut with games against Central’s Maragwa Queens and Mombasa Starlets from Coast. Eastern outfit Kirindara Girls also landed in the group.
Speaking during the draw, Coca-Cola Kenya Country Manager, Nick Mrutu said, “COPA Coca-Cola has created opportunities for thousands of young footballers in the past, some of whom have gone to have glittering careers in the game of football.”
“We hope that this year, we will have topnotch competition as we look to build a strong youth set up that could be the future of our national team,” he added.
The national finals will kick off next week Monday at Hope Center Kawangware where the preliminary games will be played. The finals will take place at the City Stadium. Team and individual prices in excess of 1.7 million shillings will be up for grabs.