The battle lines are clearly drawn as star-studded St Anthony's boys Kitale from Rift Valley and Dagoretti High School of Nairobi chase the Coca-Cola Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) boys under 19 football title as the Term Two games kick off at different venues in Kisumu on Tuesday.
In the absence of defending champions Kakamega High School, who lost at the county level during the Western region games, it is clear that the Under 19 trophy will be up for grabs.
Both St Anthony's and Dagoretti whose players form the bulk of the national Under 20 and 17 teams start as clear favourites.
St Anthony's - who are in pool A which also has Olbolsot from Central, North Eastern region representatives and Shimba Hills from Coast - have a date with the latter in the championships' opening match at Moi Stadium, Kisumu.
A bullish coach Peter Mayoyo believes it will be just one of those normal training sessions.
Mayoyo is not new to the Coast region having won several National Secondary schools football titles with Mombasa High and believes he has enough knowledge of the composition and style of play of his opponents.
“As we speak, take note that I had eleven players in the Kenya Under 17 youth team that saw off Nigeria to lift the Copa Coca-Cola African championships when the games were held in Nakuru last year,” he said adding that the presence of four other players who also did duty for the Kenya Under 20 youth team in Cairo, Egypt early this year gives him enough depth.
Issa Lumumba, Christopher Raila, Dan Odhiambo, and Geofrey Onjwati are the four players who were part of the Kenya Under 20 team while Issa Emuria, Basi Salim, and Jacob Onyango were very instrumental in the Under 17 team’s success.
His opposite number from Shimba Hills, Daniel Mulei believes it will not be as easy and has promised to give their opponents some difficult moments.
“We were unlucky last year to have missed a semi final berth on goal difference in a group that also had Olbolsot and Dagoretti High but I must confess we learnt our lessons and should be good to go this year,” he said.
According to Mulei, the team’s striking force of Omar Yahya, Said Msaji and Omar Kadir will give their opponents nightmares.
The other group A match will see Olbolsot Secondary take on North Eastern at the same time.
Dagoretti High School will be relying on Kenya Under 20 stars Bonface “Marcelo” Mwangemi and Derrick Omondi for the much needed win in their opening match against Mbooni Secondary this morning.
The team’s technical advisor Peter Orero Monday said much as they respect all their opponents, they believe they should be the team to beat especially with the galaxy of stars in his line up among them Kariobangj Sharks midfield maestro Zablon Kulera and Simon Omondi in this match set for 11:30am.
Dagorreti High will, however, have to worry about home team Kisumu Day whose coach Booker Agutu Odhiambo has promised fireworks.
Kisumu Day, who replaced Barding Secondary after they were disqualified for fielding ineligible players, is expected to enjoy home support if the number of fans, a majority being boda boda operators who throng venues whenever a school from Nyanza is playing, is anything to go by.
Eric Aucho, Glen Masere, Javan Ochieng and Vincent Oluoch are some of the players coach Odhiambo will unleash against Ebwali Secondary who got the nod after St Peter’s Mumias were disqualified.
Boys Under 19 fixture
St Anthony's (Rift Valley) v Shimba Hills (Coast)
Olbolsot Secondary (Central) v North Eastern
Dagoretti High (Nairobi) v Mbooni Secondary (Eastern)
Ebwali Secondary (Western) v Kisumu Day (Nyanza)