NAIROBI, Kenya, July 16- Laiser Hill High School waded off stiff competition to retain the Airtel Rising Stars Metropolitan region boys’ title after beating Kibera’s Olympic High School 2-1 at the Upper Hill High School.
The boys from Kajiado showed no signs of fatigue despite playing their semi-final match against Upper Hill in the morning and facing Olympic who were fresher in the afternoon final.
Laiser’s game against Upper Hill was played at the latter’s home ground at 9am, after a protest over the venue meant the game was not played on Friday.
Laiser managed to contain the stiff challenge to rally from a goal down to draw 1-1 and send the game to penalties.
The defending champions were triumphant in the shoot-out winning 5-3 to advance to the final, and went on to clinch their second consecutive regional title with a win over Olympic, a side they also faced in the preliminary stages winning 2-0.
Julius Oketch gave Laiser a dream start with a scorcher of a goal in the second minute after being set up by Richard Odanda, Olympic keeper John Mburu left dazed.
Laiser were spurred by the exciting Musa Masika with his runs on either wing causing all sorts of trouble to Olympic who struggled to keep up with his pace. The Antony Kirimi coached side had managed to deal with Olympic’s biggest danger Ali Hamissi who had been one of the best performers for the Kibera side.
Laiser’s pressure paid off in the 37th minute when Oketch beat off his markers and got into space to shoot low and beat Mburu for the second time.
Olympic raced from the deficit in the second half, piling the pressure. It only paid off five minutes to time when Skipper Shawn Odhiambo scrambled the ball home. However any hopes of a comeback were thwarted with Laiser putting up a good defensive show.
In the girls category, Olympic made up for their boys’ miss to win the title when they beat Matu Memorial 2-1 in a highly contested final.
Dorcas Okwomo gave Olympic a first half lead on the 25th minute but Matuu wrestled back to level through Sheela Rono on the 58th minute. Dorah Achieng’ was the hero scoring the winner on the 71st minute as the Kibera based side came out victorious.
This is the second time Olympic are beating Matuu after the two faced off last year, the Kibera side coming out tops. In the playoff, Nairobi County’s Maina Wanjigi won after easing past Kikima 2-0. Venah Kakai and Nanzala Delphin netted a goal apiece on the 19th and 39th minutes.
In the Lake region, Barding and Nyakach will fly the region’s flag at the national finals after winning their final matches on Saturday.
Barding posted a 3-1 win over Usenge to win the boys final while Nyakach Girls edged out Singo Girls 1-0 to win the girls title.
In Coast region, Green Palms and St. Johns Kaloleni booked their tickets in convincing style. Green Palms were 3-0 winners over Shimba Hills in the boys final while the Mwanahalima Adam inspired St. John’s made a mockery of Kwale Girls, plundering seven unanswered goals past their opponents, Adam bagging five with Liz Katungwa and Nuru Adana adding the other goals.
In the Metropolitan region, defending champions Kwanthanze were stunned by little known Soweto 3-2 in the final.
Kwanthanze were left dazed after Soweto showed good fighting spirit and determination to snatch away the set 27-25.
The defending champions came into the second set rejuvenated and minimized their mistakes, tidying up their blocks and reception managing to snatch away the set 25-17.
The third set was evenly matched between the two sides, Soweto fighting hard seeing their ability to push the champions and probably go for the kill. After Kwanthanze had showed their mettle to pull away 14-6, Soweto fought back and came to within two points , managing to push the scores all the way to 23-21.
Kwanthanze used their experience to drift away and managed to win the second set 25-21.
The fourth was a do or die affair for Soweto as they knew a loss would diminish their hopes and hand Kwanthanze the trophy. The minnows fought back and managed to win the set 25-22 to set up a tense and nervous tie breaker.
The decider was a tense affair with the two teams pushing each other neck to neck there was some stoppage with a section of Kwanthanze fans protesting a point awarded to the opponents. Soweto held on for a 15-13 set win and 3-2 in the match.
Soweto coach who is also the school’s principle Johstone Makabwa was excited after the win saying; “We are happy with the win. We played our hearts out and the win is a result of hard work and determination. We are looking forward to the next chapter.”
In the boys final, Hospital Hill qualified for the national championships after retaining their title courtesy of a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-13) straight sets victory over Utithi High School.