Kenya’s representatives in this year’s Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup of Nations Serani Secondary School are keen to ensure they emerge victorious at the football tournament.
Serani sealed their place in the championship after edging out Koyonzo 1-0 to be crowned national under-16 champions in August.
They will battle 11 other countries for glory in the continental showpiece that begins on Monday at the M-pesa Foundation Academy, in Thika.
They will also be looking to follow in the footsteps of St Anthony’s Boys Kitale, who won the title in last year’s inaugural event held in Nakuru.
Kenyans begin their campaign in Group A alongside Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Team coach Isaac Wandera said his charges are ready for the tough task ahead.
“We have prepared well and the boys are eager to leave a mark at the big stage. I can’t say much about our opponents because we will be meeting them for the first time but being a continental event, we expect stiff competition because they are the top teams from their countries,” Wandera said.
He added that they had a series of friendly matches and his charges have featured for Bandari Youth, which will be of invaluable help in their campaign.
“Most of these boys play for Bandari Youth and we have also gauged ourselves in friendly matches. We carry the same momentum we had at the national games and our aim is to go all the way to the final,” said Wandera.
His sentiments were echoed by captain Hamisi Hamisi, who said they are determined to play in the championships’ final.
“We have been preparing for the championship since we won the national trophy and I believe even though we will be playing top teams from different countries, we have what it takes to lift the trophy,” Hamisi said.
Hamisi will lead Serani defenders Marcos Achola, Islam Abeid, Mohammed Aden and Fredrick Onyango in ensuring the opponents don’t invade their territory and goalkeeper Ismail Tole is not under frequent attacks.
Geoffrey Baiba, Mbaruk Mohammed, Bilal Kibwana and Yassir Abdi will marshal the midfield.
Strikers Joel Elisha, Nassoro Mwinyi, Jumaa Shaban, Ali Kamalu and Leonard Okuku will lead in goal hunt.
South Africa highlights Group B that also has Zambia and Tanzania.
Ethiopia, Uganda and new entrants Namibia are in Group c while Angola, Botswana and debutants Burkina Faso complete the line-up in Group D.
Last year’s finalists Nigeria and Malawi will not feature in this year’s championships.
Kenya’s St Anthony’s beat Nigeria 3-2 in post-match penalties to lift the coveted trophy.
Moi Girls Nangili won last year’s girls trophy but national champions Wiyeta were unlucky as the 2019 event will not feature a girls’ competition.