Hopes high as Aldrine Kibet returns to Kakamega hunting ground

Kenya's Under-18 players celebrate a goal during their Cecafa Under 18 tournament Group A match against Rwanda at Jomo Kenyatta Stadium, Mamboleo, Kisumu on November 28, 2023.

Photo credit: Dominik Ombok | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya, who have already booked their place in the semi-finals of the Cecafa Under-18 tournament, take on their neighbours at Bukhungu Stadium, Kakamega, as they seek to cement their place at the top of Group A.

Spain-based striker Aldrine Kibet returns to Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium on Friday seeking an improved performance for Kenya’s Junior Stars as they take on fast-rising Somalia in their last Cecafa Under-18 Football Championships group match.

It was at Kakamega’s Bukhungu Stadium that Kibet rose to fame in August when his goal-scoring prowess led Kitale’s St Anthony’s to the National Secondary School Games football title.

His two goals in St Anthony’s 2-0 win over Nairobi’s Dagoretti in the final crowned a superb tournament that saw him top the numbers with a massive 25 goals and 27 assists.

He would then travel to Spain for high performance academy football at the Nastic Soccer Academy in Tarragona, some 40 minutes away from downtown Barcelona.

Kenya coach Salim Babu will be looking for an encore from the youngster against the boys from Mogadishu.

Speaking yesterday after the hosts edged out Rwanda 1-0 in a tightly contested Group “A” match at Kisumu’s Jomo Kenyatta Stadium to qualify for the semis, coach Babu promised to rectify mistakes made yesterday before they face stubborn Somalia.

“We wasted many chances that should have given us a big margin win, but we have room to improve before we travel to Kakamega for the last match.

“Somalia has a good team and we must prepare well to tackle them and finish on top,” the coach said.

Babu maintained the same squad which did duty against Sudan in the opening match with Joseph Omuse and Tyron Kariuki manning the midfield, while captain Amos Wanjala, Baron Ochieng, Joseph Bate and Manzur Suleiman Okwaro marshalled the defence.

The 1-0 win over Rwanda, courtesy of Spain-based Kibet’s strike, was the second consecutive victory for the Kenyans, but Babu feel they must play better to overpower Somalia who beat Sudan 3-0 in their second match in Kisumu on Tuesday.

Kenya should have taken an early lead in the 12th minute when 16-year-old Kibet released a weak shot that could not trouble ‘keeper Yyan Ruhamyanyiko.

Cheered on by a huge crowd, the Junior Stars continued attacking the opponents in the second half looking for more goals, but two efforts by midfield maestro Joseph Omuse failed to succeed.

Omuse laid a neat pass to Elly Owande, but attacking midfielder Sibomana Sultan reacted quickly to clear the danger before Owade could pull the trigger.
Owade had another attempt when he latched onto Loius Ingavi’s pass but failed to find the target.

Junior Stars started the championship with a 5-0 win over Sudan and are now leading the group on six points with six goals, while Somalia are second on three goals, the same as Rwanda, but the Omar Ahmed-coached Somali side is ahead on goal aggregate.

Despite Tuesday’s loss, Rwandan coach Baptiste Kayiranga praised his charges for putting on a sterling performance and remained optimistic, stating that his boys will fight hard to against Somalia in their final group match on Friday to qualify for the semis.

In Wednesday’s matches to be staged at Bukhungu Stadium, Tanzania and Zanzibar, who won their first matches at the weekend, face South Sudan and Uganda, respectively. Tanzania edged out Uganda 1-0 while Zanzibar pipped South Sudan by the same margin at the same venue.

According to Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Auka Gacheo, the tournament takes a short break tomorrow with final group matches resuming on Friday.


Wednesday in Kakamega: Tanzania v South Sudan (12noon), Zanzibar v Uganda (3pm).