May 14, 2014

KYFA 2014: A Battle with Top Teams

The Suba Lakers participated in the Kisumu Youth Football Association (KYFA) Nationwide Ladies Tournament during the weekend of April 25-27, 2014.   Some of the top teams from all over the country traveled to Kisumu to compete.  Since the Kenya Women’s Premier League hasn’t yet started this year, many Premier League teams flocked to the tournament.  In addition to great football, KYFA does an excellent job of bringing in successful women to share with the girls.  Throughout the 3-day tournament, speakers discussed many topics which affect young girls in Kenya today.  This year, the club took two teams to compete in both tournament categories; Under 15 and Open Age.

On the field, our Under 15 team showed great skill and teamwork on the smaller pitch designed for the 7 v. 7 competition.  Though many of the other teams used players who were over the age of 15, our Suba Lakers were young girls with great potential.  In their first match they defeated Ojol 2-0 on goals by June Brenda and Joan Onunya.  In the 2nd match, they ran into a tough team from Western Province called the Wiyeta Bee’s.  The Bee’s scored early on from a free kick, but Phylice Akoth equalized in the 2nd half.  The Lakers had a flurry of chances in the closing minutes, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw.  In the first match of the 2nd day, we played the Soccer Angels from Nairobi.  The two teams were tied atop the pool coming into the game.  The Angels were a very mature and experienced team who have played together for many years.  They were the favorites coming into the tournament.  They were shocked when the Suba Lakers came out aggressively and dominated the 1st half.  Unfortunately towards the end of the half, one of the Angel strikers collected a rebound from the goalkeeper and kicked a laser into the back of the net.  They didn’t get many other chances because of great defense from Lakers Jecinter Atieno and Florence Wangoi.  The 2nd half continued similarly to the first half and the Lakers hit the post multiple times but couldn’t score.  Even in the final minute, the Lakers created two great chances which ultimately didn’t produce a goal.

After the Angels match, the Suba Lakers protested the opponents’ age.  The KYFA officials met and concluded that 2 of their players were overage and would be ineligible for the remainder of the tournament, but they said the results of our match would not be changed.  Led by midfielder Felistas Atieno, the Lakers took out their aggression on their final preliminary opponent Asol with a resounding 6-0 victory.  In the four games, Lakers Goalkeeper Lourine Awuor played so well and only allowed 2 goals, and saving many near goals, but the 2 that were scored were costly.  At the end of the pool matches, we finished 1 point behind 2nd place and thus didn’t qualify for the Semifinals. 

In the Free Age category, our girls battled hard.  Several of our top Suba Lakers were not able to play with us in the tournament because of injuries, home responsibilities, and a few were also playing with their secondary school teams.  That gave opportunities for some of the other players to step into their roles and get a chance to gain some valuable experience against strong competition.  In the first match, we were pitted against the pre-tournament favorite and Kenyan Premier League team, Thika Queens.  We held them scoreless until the final minute of the 1st half.  They controlled possession and added a 2nd goal in the second half to win 2-0.  In the next match, we played a strong Wiyeta Bee’s team who took control in the opening half, but with some great saves from Suba Laker Goalkeeper Lillian Awuor, they couldn’t score.  After a rousing half-time speech, the Suba Lakers responded with a spirited 2nd half passing the ball and communicating much louder.  In extra time, the Bee’s were awarded a penalty kick, but Lillian made a great diving save to preserve a barren 0-0 draw.  The 3rd game produced the same result, 0-0, against Suba Laker Rivals, Kisumu Leads United.  In our final preliminary match, we played another rival, Kobala.  The Kobala team captain, Caren Akeyo, is a Suba Laker who grew up under the club.  She played hard defense against her sisters and made life difficult for the Suba Lakers.  Kobala scored 1 goal on a keeper’s error and desperately tried to hold on to the lead so they could qualify for the Semifinals.  We had several great opportunities to score in the 2nd half, but never managed to put one in.  We finished 4th in the pool of 6 teams. 

Though both of our teams were now out of the tournament, we scheduled a friendly match against our friends from Jera Secondary School for the following day.  We mixed in some of our Juniors with the older players and had a lot of encouragement from the bench.  We finally scored our 1st goal of the tournament (for the Open Age team) on a beautiful cross from Damaris Awino into Dorothy Adhiambo. The friendly match ended in a loss of 3-1 but the girls gave a great effort and enjoyed the entire weekend. 


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