Talanta Hela U19: High flying Homabay eye double in Nyeri play-off

NYERI, Kenya, Nov 20 – Homabay will seek double victory in both the boys’ and girls’ title fight at the play-off tournament of the Talanta Hela Under-19 tournament in Nyeri, as they play in the semis on Tuesday.

Both teams from the Nyanza region finished the group phase with 100 percent records to top and will now look to clinch tickets to the final.

The boys team completed their pool action with a thrilling 9-0 victory over Embu, finishing the group stage with 12 points and have set up a date against Kirinyaga County in Tuesday’s semis.

Kenyatta Onyango was the hero for a much-changed Homabay side, scoring four goals. Geoffrey Omondi stepped off the bench to score a double, and should have had a hattrick but missed a penalty.

Bernard Otieno and Bildad Otieno scored a goal each to add on to the haul in an emphatic display of total dominance.

Homabay’s Kenyatta Otieno celebrating one of his two goals against Embu. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

With qualification to the semis and a place in the nationals already secured, Homabay changed much of their squad to give chance to most of those who didn’t have enough minutes time to show their worth.

Coach George Omondi Ouma was more than elated with the performance, especially coming from mostly bench players.

“The secret is just to let the boys express themselves on the pitch. Give them instruction before the game and let them execute it by themselves. I am really pleased because they have been able to do that pleasantly well,” the tactician said.

On their meet up with Kirinyaga in the semis, the tactician said they expect a tough outing.

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“We have watched them play and they are a really tough side. It will not be easy and we cannot dare underrate them. We will map out a good strategy for them and the best thing is that most of our first team players were rested today,” noted the coach.

Kirinyaga squeezed into the final by the skin of their teeth, a 2-2 draw with Kwale sneaking them through on seven points, one ahead of hitherto second placed Marsabit who were thrashed 4-1 by Uasin Gishu.

Lewis Nyaga was the hero for Kirinyaga, scoring the equalizer in the 85th minute to spare them a point.

Kirinyaga were the first to score through Brian Murimi in the 39th minute, but the lead lasted barely a minute as Rajab Suleiman levelled matters. He scored the second 10 minutes from halftime and at that point, Kwale had a place in the semis and a ticket to the nationals.

Kirinyaga celebrating their ticket to the national finals. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

However, Murimi notched in the vital goal to send Anne Waiguru’s boys to the last four as well as the national finals.

“We are really delighted to be in the nationals, That was our main target. As a team we worked hard and were rewarded,” said Brian Mburu, the Kirinyaga skipper.

Meanwhile, the pairing of the other boys’ semi-final is yet to be decided after an appeal forwarded by Kakamega against a player fielded by Nakuru, who they claim is ineligible.

As at Monday night, the case was yet to be decided, with Kakamega having won their second game with a 3-1 victory over Kisii.

The win takes them to six points, one behind Nakuru. If their appeal goes through, they will be awarded points from their 3-2 defeat to Nakuru and move to second.

Meanwhile in the girls’ category, Homabay wound up their group phase campaign with a 3-0 victory over Kiambu and have booked a date with Uasin Gishu in the semis, the latter having thrashed Marsabit 13-0 to finish second in their group.

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In the other semi-final, Busia County, who finished top of their group will take on Machakos, the latter having beaten Nyandarua 1-0 to clinch second spot.

All the semi-finalists have qualified for the national finals, but the battle will be on who will clinch the overall play-offs title.

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