Barding crowned East African football champions
Debutants Barding High completed a smash and grab 1-0 victory over Ugandan favourites, St. Mary’s Kitende to be crowned the new East Africa Secondary School Games boy’s football champions at Eldoret’s Dr. Kipchoge Keino Stadium on Saturday.
In the earlier corresponding girl’s final at the same venue, Rwanda’s GS Remera broke the hearts of national titleholders, St. John’s Kaloleni by beating them 5-4 in a tense post-match penalty shootout after settling a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time.
At Hill School Eldoret Grounds, Uganda’s Kibuli beat home side Bukembe 2-1 as Kenya’s Wiyeta sank SS Masaka 2-0 also from Uganda in the boy’s and girl’s bronze medal matches.
The climax of the football competition at the FEASSA organised games between Barding who were meeting 11-time regional champions, Kitende for the very first time attracted a fair crowd that was on the edge of their seats until four minutes from time when substitute James Ochieng netted the all important goal on the breakaway.
A rare mistake from the impressive Kitende’s right back allowed Aboubakar Sadiki Omondi to steal the ball, advance to the by-line before cutting back to Ochieng who side-footed a low finish to send the crowd into raptures.
The tense game ended in chaos after the goal scorer was yellow carded for throwing his shirt off before Barding resulted in play-acting to kill time, inflaming the Kitende players who finished with 10-men when Bashir Asiku was sent-off in the last minute of added time for accosting the assistant referee.
They were further incensed when their second half goal from lively left-back, Ashraf Butuanuka was chalked off for offside controversially after ping-pong in the Barding box that saw their impressive keeper, John Otieno, make a blinding one handed save to the initial shot.
The ball was then sent crashing off the goal frame between the post and cross bar and with Barding defenders, about five of them along the goal line unable to clear, it was laid off to Butuanuka who tucked in it from close range.
However, the referee chalked it off much to the chagrin of the Kitende players who accosted him after the final whistle as their opponents celebrated without abandon as contrasting emotions took centre stage.
In the frenetic conclusion, Barding coach and former Kitende student, George Owoko, exchanged harsh words with the Ugandan match commissioner and his opposite Ronald Ssali in Luganda demanding for the final whistle.
“There was no better way of telling it, I wanted to reach his heart and mind because anything could have happened that time.
“I know their philosophy having schooled there, so we let them posses the ball in the first half but in the second half we knew how to tame them,” the former Tusker FC assistant coach told Citizen Digital after winning the boy’s football title for Kenya for the first time since 2002 when St. Anthony’s Kitale clinched the coveted crown.
His team wrapped the title without losing or conceding a goal in their first appearance at the regional stage having lost the national crown on penalties to Laiser Hill who disappointed here and crashed out in the preliminary stage.
However, the home side could count themselves lucky after scrapping through the Ugandans who were superior in all aspects of the game from the onset, with Otieno distinguishing himself with four telling saves having come in for first choice Jacktone Odira.
“I will prepare for next year because we had many chances and scored a genuine goal that was wrongly called off for offside. It’s the game anyway and my boys played very well and created many chances and we made one mistake and they caught, that is football,” his opposite number, Ssali who took some time to soak in the crushing blow said.
He shortly afterwards, led his players and staff off the stadium and into their bus for a rapid exit without waiting for the silver medal.
After a bright start by Kitende, earning four corners and forcing Otieno to make a flying save to tip over a rasping shot from range from Fred Atuhwera, Barding settled into the game as the first half wore on.
Steven Namwanda’s free kick was cleared off the line as Kitende pressed for the opener as the half-time break approached.
Barding introduced Ochieng and Ndemi Keegan at the restart, but it was the Ugandan side that continued domination with Butuanuka’s goal denied for offside, after a moment of confusion in Barding’s box.
In the preceding girl’s final star player, Mwanahalima ‘Dogo’ Adam missed from 12 yards as St. John’s Kaloleni lost to Rwanda’s GS Remera in a marathon post match shoot-out.
The match had ended 1-1 in regulation time, Mkeshimina Amodhe of Remera breaking the deadlock at the hour mark before Mwanahalima restored parity before she turned to the villain.
Elated Remmera’s coach Bonny Njengimana said the win is a reflection of what to expect in the forthcoming inaugural CECAFA women competition in Uganda.
“I credit them for absorbing the home crowd to win against a very good side. They defeated us in the preliminaries, but we learnt our lesson and we were sure of stopping them today.
“Our girls are doing very well, with proper management they could become the regional champions in CECAFA,” he added.
-Bronze medal clashes-
Stellah Anyango and Monica Etot quick fire second half goals in the 59th and 63rd minutes won Wiyeta the bronze against their tiring Ugandan opponents, SS Masaka.
Anyango curled in the ball to the far left corner when she expertly picked her spot when the ball fell to her right foot from a half-cleared cross from a quickly taken throw in before Etot clinched the result when she made sure the ball crossed the line when the Masaka keeper was caught off her line.
Stephen Mukwala and Tonny Kwalazi were on target for Uganda champions Kibuli in the 20th and 62nd minutes sandwiched between Linus Barasa’s equaliser in the 55th.
Bukembe number one fan Kennedy Makokha, famed for his 400 kilometers bicycle ride to Lodwar to cheer the side during the Nzoia Regional finals was content with the result.
“They have done well reaching the semis being the first time they are playing in this level. I am happy; they can build up from this year’s performance next year to win it.”
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