In the absence of last year’s winners Kakamega High School, the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 tournament, now in its 10th edition, will have new champions in the boys’ category when Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) term two games kick off from July 23-28 at Eldoret’s Hill School.
In the girls’ category, holders Olympic High will be seeking to retain the title they won during last year’s championship held in Mombasa.
The Nairobi girls will be up against Rift Valley footballing powerhouse Wiyeta, Alliance Girls High, who represent Central Region, and Sega Girls from Nyanza Region in what is expected to be the group of death. For a chance to defend their gong, Olympic will have to ensure a top two finish in the group stages to proceed to the semi-finals. Girls’ group B has Tar Tar, Waa, Materdel High from Eastern region and Moi Girls Nangili Secondary School, the Western representatives.
Tar Tar will bank on the immense experience gained during the just-concluded Chapa Dimba championship where they finished second after losing 4-3 to Nyanza’s Plateau Queens on post-match penalties.
The achievement is especially significant for the Julius Natoka coached girls as their team was composed exclusively of students as opposed to some of their opponents and they had a chance to expose the Under-16 players to a tough battle on the pitch.
In the boys’ category, Group A will have St Peter’s Mumias, St Cyprian High from Eastern, Nyanza’s Riyabu Secondary School as well as a representative from the North Eastern.
The North Eastern regional finals started yesterday at Sabunley Secondary School in Wajir and end on July 22 with the winning teams proceeding to Eldoret to battle it out for the national title.
However, the region will not field a girls’ team.
Boys’ Group B has St Anthony Upper Hill, Olbolsat from Central and Kinondo from Coast. Battle-hardened St Antony and Upper Hill have been tipped to dominate the group.
The games will be a culmination of the Under-16 boys’ and girls’ tournament with a total of 5,000 schools having registered and participated for a chance to be inaugurated as the national champions. Since 2008, the tournament has had over 10,000 students participating.