Every year, the national secondary school ball games produces the talents that have gone to represent the country in different sports disciplines in the paid ranks as well as the national teams; this year’s showpiece that was held in Eldoret being no exception in unearthing future gems.
With scouts hovering around in the showpiece to spot the talents that they hope will boost their respective teams, I bring you the names that should be on the minds of the coaches who showed up to catch a glimpse of the action.
Victor Mwangi (Olbolsat)
Having arrived at the showpiece as one of the underdogs, nobody gave Olbolsat a hoot until they took on Dagoretti High School in their first game. The team put up a brave fight to hold one of the tournament's favourites to a 1-1 draw to register themselves as no-pushovers. They held Shimba Hills by the same margin in the second game before whitewashing North Eastern’s Tarbaj 4-1 in the final group game.
The team had a well worked game plan that depended largely on their solid defence. In all the group games, they defended deeply and attacked on the break when their opponents snoozed. One standout performer in this plan was Mwangi. Not only did he help his team mates by coordinating the defence, he also made several crucial saves that kept the team in matches.
They were to eliminate St Anthony’s in the semis despite the foray of attacks from their opponents and in the final he single handedly prevented Kakamega High School from scoring in 90 minutes only to be undone by a moment of concentration lapse as they fell to a solitary goal in stoppage time.
Samson Otieno (Kakamega High School)
The diminutive right back did all a defender could do in a football game. He was there when needed to defend and joined in attack whenever he was required to. He also had a perfect understanding with the team’s midfield and was one of the major threats in the team with his trademark crosses; his runs allowing attacking midfielder Evans Odhiambo to join the team's strikers in the box that allowed him the liberty to express himself. His importance was felt more when he picked an injury in the final with the predicament allowing Olbosat back into the game.
Zakaria Muchicha (Olbolsat)
The Young man led from the back. With the defence being their major strong point, Muchicha cleared everything that came their way. He had a good understanding of the game and was specifically tasked with the job of not allowing opposing strikers any leeway in the box. His height too was an advantage when it came to aerial duels and did in keeping silent Kevington Machika in the final.
Fredrick Alushula (Kakamega High School)
Just as Muchicha, Alushula couldn’t allow strikers have a sniff of their goal. Would remain behind every time Otieno or Ooko went to join in the attack and filled the void left by his defensive partners when was required.
Boniface Ooko (Kakemega High School)
Many have seen him with the team in National Super League (NSL) and his experience was to the advantage of the 2018 champions. He delivered perfect crosses and at one point in the final almost scored directly from the corner kick. Should work on his tracking though as he attacks too much and forgets to get back in time, something that Dagoretti almost punished them for in their semi-final encounter.
Abdikadir Hamza (St Anthony’s)
If there was any unlucky player not to make it to the finals, then it was Hamza. Jersey 13, which he wore, was the talk of town every time his team took the pitch. One of the leanest players in the showpiece but his knowledge of the game was second to none. When his team required to control the tempo, all balls were directed to him. Olbolsat knew this and rarely gave him space. Poor when frustrated. He went missing in that tie and the outcome was that his team lost.
Chris Alfa (Kakamega High School)
Being named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in a showpiece that has so many young talented players is no mean feat. Alpha literally carried his school through all games. In the game against Dagoretti apart from scoring the winning penalty, his understanding of the game was exhibited when he received a yellow card in the fifth minute of the game. He switched swiftly with Joshua Otieno and played the number 10 role at some point and still gave an exemplary performance. He was at his devastating best when screening his back four. He isn’t the captain of the national U20 team for no reason.
Silas Ogana (St Anthony’s)
Captain of the team, his combination with Hamza in midfield was one to behold. His tiniest of physiques gives a dummy side of what he can do with the ball. Owoko deployed him at the number 8 role and easily weaved through his markers; if only they had a good striker. His passes went begging due to lack of a proper finisher to convert the chances he created.
Kevington Machika (Kakamega High School)
No one knew much about Kevington apart from his fans who have watched him represent the Gor Mahia youth team. A complete finisher, the boy rarely wasted the chances that came his way. He could hold up play and linked well with his supporting cast The fact that he had good ballers around him helped his course too.
Shaban Mwachozi (Dagoretti High School)
“There is no way that that kid doesn’t have a club in Nairobi,” claimed one of the fans when watching Mwachozi against Olbolsat in their first game. His biggest asset is his speed and his mazy runs. His work rate was second to none in the showpiece. His major undoing was failing to help his defence when they were under siege.
Evans Odhiambo (Kakamega High School)
If the MVP award didn’t go to Alpha then Odhiambo would be the player to receive it. The kid has all the tricks you need in this world in a forward. With Dan Oloo and Joshua Otieno playing behind him, his combination with Machika was one of the best in the showpiece. They changed positions easily and slalomed through the Dagoretti and Olbolsat defence without breaking any sweat. Should work on his finishing though.
Subs: Brian Opondo (Goalkeeper, Kakamega High School), Boniface Mwangemi (Midfielder- Dagoretti High), Joshua Otieno (Midfielder-Kakamega High School), Finlay Osoro (Forward-Dagoretti High) Dan Oloo (Midfielder-Kakamega High School), James Kibande (Striker-St. Anthony’s), Harrison Maina (Striker-Olbosalat), Bill Clinton (Striker-Ringa Boyz)