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COPA takes league format

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 10- The 2011 Copa Coca Cola will adopt a league format as opposed to knockout competition as has been the norm over the past three seasons.

Copa administrator Gerald Chege told Capital Sport on Thursday that the change was made due to the need of sustained competitive football at the grassroots level.

“Knockout competitions are killing the Kenyan game. People prepare for a month, they play for a 30 minutes, when they get knocked out they only get lunch for their efforts. So we decided to have a league where you play one game and then after month you play another game then after another four weeks you play your final game,” said Chege.

“Points will be awarded according to how a team performs with the top two in each pool progress,” he added.

Chege is confident the new format will introduce a semblance of professionalism at the development level.

“It gives teams opportunities. They have a month to work on their game and respective weaknesses and also puts pressure on schools to hire professional coaches. Communities and schools have become very serious and we decided to match that by giving them a professional tournament,” said Chege.

This year the team has been cut down to 512 teams from over 1000 last year.

“COPA Coca Cola’s new structure brings much needed depth to Kenya’s junior football competitions. The knock out structure often eliminates teams that would have performed very well in the tournament had they had a couple more opportunities to bounce back after their first failure,” said Chege.

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The national finals will be held in Kisumu in July. Each county will have an opportunity to present eight boys and four girls teams to take part in the games.

“This year, the best teams will play all through the tournament to the international camp. That sense of cohesiveness should be a force to reckon with when the tournament progresses to the international stages,” said Coke Senior Brand manager for East and Central Africa Catherine Mudachi.


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