Clean sweep for Kenya in Copa tourney - Daily Nation

Clean sweep for Kenya in Copa tourney

Saturday December 15 2018

Kenya players celebrate after winning the boys' Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Kenya players celebrate after winning the boys' Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MACHARIA MWANGI
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Kenya emerged winners in both the boys and girls categories of Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations as the tournament came to a close on Saturday at the Afraha Stadium.

The boys overcame gritty Nigeria in the post-match penalties winning 3-2 after settling for a barren draw in regulation time.

The Kenyan girls edged Zimbabwe 1-0 to be crowned champions.

The girls, for the second time, overcame their Zimbabwean counterparts, to walk away with the coveted trophy with only two teams taking part.

A well-taken free kick by the gifted Mercy Njeri in the seventh minute was all Kenya needed.

The midfielder, who was a joy to watch, stepped up and volleyed home a 25-yard stunner, beating the stranded Zimbabwean goalkeeper Tanaka Mbesere.

Vennesa Nangekhe (left) of Kenya vies for ball with Emasculate Zulu  of Zimbabwe during their Copa Coca-cola Under 16 Africa Cup of Nations final at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Vennesa Nangekhe (left) of Kenya vies for ball with Emasculate Zulu of Zimbabwe during their Copa Coca-cola Under 16 Africa Cup of Nations final at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |NATION MEDIA GROUP

On the other hand, the boys team relied on the lottery to overcome a disappointing Nigeria 3-2.

Nigerian approached the game with singular motive of stopping the enterprising home side and resulted to playing long balls to the displeasure of the fans who turned out in large numbers.

The Kenyans stuck to their usual passing game but endured a frustrating afternoon as the Nigerians retreated to their half and defended in numbers.

Kenya's midfielders Lucas Maina and Wisdom Nayah who had been a revelation in the tournament could not find their usual rhythm as they were tightly marked by the Nigerians.

Upfront, top scorer Jacob Onyango was also off-colour as the Kenyan side struggled to create clear cut chances in a balanced first half.

But Onyango forced a point blank save from the impressive Nigerian shot stopper, Moses Aluko in the 20 the minute after beating Nigerian defenders Shina Kumater and Hamza Dauda, with the crowd on its feet.  

Both teams could not find the net at the breather as coaches Peter Mayoyo from Kenya and his Nigerian counterpart Gilbert Igwe sought to outwit each other.

Mayoyo introduced speedy winger Isaiah Abwal on resumption with Kenyans pinning their opponents in their own half. A series of attacks drew saves from the heroic Captain Aluko.

He was forced to come off his line and parry a hard shot by Maina in the 54th minute, before dusting himself to save a follow up shot by Abwal.

The home team kept asking all the right questions but Aluko was on top of his game, with Kenyan fans watching in disbelief.

The host continued to dominate but were guilty of missed chances despite being urged on by a partisan crowd.

Kenya's Lucas Maina (left) vies for the ball with Nigeria's Chibuike Daniel (centre) and Chukwuemeka Prosper during Copa Coca-cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations final at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Kenya's Lucas Maina (left) vies for the ball with Nigeria's Chibuike Daniel (centre) and Chukwuemeka Prosper during Copa Coca-cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations final at Afraha stadium, Nakuru on December 15, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Nigerians resulted to time wasting and play acting to the chagrin of the enthusiastic supporters.

“They (Nigerians) knew their goalkeeper was superb and resulted to time wasting but forgot we had also trained for the penalties," said an emotional Mayoyo.  

In the penalty shootout, Kenyan scored through David Leon, Harun Kibiwot and Abwal while Lucas Maina and Issa Rashid missed.

Nigerian scorers were Shina Kumater and Omodara Olamilekan with Kenyan keeper Issa Emuria saving Hussein Mohamed and William Gift's efforts. Jerry Omeke blasted wide.   

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