KISUMU, Kenya, Aug 6 -Laiser Hill and St.Johns won their maiden Airtel Rising Stars national football titles after beating Barding and Wiyeta in the boys and girls final Saturday.
Laiser Hill need a penalty shootout to win 3-1, their first trophy after crashing out at the same stage last year while St.Johns comfortably beat defending champions Wiyeta by the same margin to be crowned the new national Queens.
Geoffrey Ouma, Pius Ouma, John Macharia all converted their spot kicks even after Peter Kinyanjui hit the bar in the first kick of the shoot outs. The two sides played a1-1 draw in regulation time.
The win for Metropolitan side means host Lake Region will have to wait for the boys title a little longer. The last time Lake (formerly Nyanza Province) won boys football title was six years ago when Thur Gem squad that consisted of among others Noah Abich (Sofapaka), Kevin Oluoch and Victor Abondo lifted this trophy at the same venue in 2010.
Substitute goalkeeper Franklin Otieno who came in for Emmanuel Juma who was pulled out in the second half with an ankle injury produced a steller performance when he saved three penalties to hand Laiser the title.
“I know I am the best and am in the best team. My team counted on me when it mattered most,” said heroic Otieno.
Ibrahim Mohammed gave Barding the lead in the 46th minute but his effort was cancelled by Geoffrey Ouma with seven minutes remain on the clock to take the game to extra time which produced no goals.
Victor Okring who is expected to join Gor Mahia Youth was the first to test Juma with a powerful free kick from about 30 yards but his effort was punched away for a corner. Laiser responded with two quick attacks in an entertaining first half.
Otieno denied marauding Zico Kombo a clear chance after the small but chicky winger placed the ball in the far left corner but the goalies long hands parried the ball for a corner.
Laiser’s Sheldon Ouma was red carded in the 120th minutes after he committed a fail but Barring filed to use the opportunity with the resultant free kick.
Former champions Passenga beat another new entrant to the national stage, Bukembe of Nzoia 5-4 on penalties to finish a distant third after the two teams played a barren draw in regulation time.
All the finalists and Passenga automatically booked a place in the East Africa games to be hosted in Eldoret from August 20th. Host KSSSA may however field additional team in both categories.