NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – New champions will be crowned in the Rift Valley region when the Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom bandwagon makes a stop at the Kericho Green Stadium this weekend after the holders were bundled out in the preliminary round.
Kitale Queens, who bagged the girls’ title and Kajiado’s Al Ahly FC who reigned supreme in the boys’ contest were both knocked out early.
Season one champions Kapenguria Heroes will meanwhile make a grand return to the regional finals, looking to exert their authority and get their place back on the kings’ table.
Kapenguria will take on Transmara’s White Rhino in the first semi-final while Kajiado’s Laiser Hill will square out with Tumkas FC of Uasin Gishu in the other semi-final fixture.
Uasin Gishu’s Tumkas who lost the final last year to Ahly will be out to try and bag the title with coach Peter Tanui exuding confidence his side is not afraid of the expected competition.
“Football is unpredictable. You may come prepared for a win but the odds don’t favor you. I know for sure it won’t be easy to secure a win, however, we have trained hard in readiness for the teams we have been drawn against. I have faith this time round we shall win and represent our region at the national finals,” Tanui stated.
Meanwhile in the girls’ encounter, Itigo Girls who lost 4-0 in last year’s regional finals to Kitale will look to have a second bite of the final cherry but they will first need to go beyond Kajiado’s Achievers. Bomet Queens will battle West Pokot’s Wiyeta in the second semi.
Meanwhile, organizers say everything in place ahead of what is expected to be an exciting tournament.
“One would easily mistake the grassroots for the finals going by how competitive the games were. The teams were allowed to have an additional three players in the spirit of tapping talent from the relegated teams and we expect an even tougher regional finals with no team being perceived as an underdog,” said Evans Omondi, Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom Rift Valley region coordinator.
The winning teams in the regional finals will walk away with Sh200,000 and a chance to represent the region in the national finals set for June where Sh1mn is up for grabs. The runners up will pocket Sh100,000 with a host of individual prizes set to be won.
So far, Nairobi’s Dagoretti Mixed High, Beijing Raiders from Starehe, Tumaini School from Makueni, Isiolo Starlets from Isiolo, North Eastern’s Berlin FC from Garissa, Coast region’s Yanga FC from Malindi, Kwale Ladies, Falling Waters from Laikipia and Ulinzi Youth from Nanyuki have secured tickets to the national finals.
After the regional finals, an All-Star team comprising of 16 girls and 16 boys will be selected to attend a 10-day training camp in Spain during which they will play friendlies against top Spanish La Liga Football Academies.