Profiles of Kenya's U-18 football sensations lighting up CECAFA Championship


FOOTBALL Profiles of Kenya's U-18 football sensations lighting up CECAFA Championship

Festus Chuma 20:40 - 07.12.2023

Kenya's U-18 football team, the Junior Stars, have impressed in the CECAFA Championship, showcasing young talents in goalkeeping, defense, midfield, and attack.

The CECAFA U-18 Championship has showcased Kenya's rising football talents as the Junior Stars have grabbed the spotlight with their outstanding performances.

Under the guidance of head coach Salim Babu, this skilled team has not only maintained a flawless record from the group stages to the semifinals but has also demonstrated an impressive combination of defensive and offensive abilities, leaving spectators thoroughly impressed.

In their journey to the CECAFA U-18 final, Kenya dominated Group A with three consecutive wins, accumulating nine points. 

The Junior Stars' remarkable performances have been marked by their ability to find the back of the net, amassing ten goals in just three matches.

Their most dominating victory came in the form of a 5-0 triumph over Sudan which was followed by a narrow 1-0 win against Rwanda and a convincing 4-1 victory over Somalia.

One of the standout moments of their campaign was their semi-final clash against Tanzania where the match ended 0-0 after regulation time, leading to extra time. However, both teams could not break the deadlock, resulting in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout. 

In this article, Pulse Sports delve into the profiles of these budding football stars who are set to leave an indelible mark on the championship.

Ibrahim Wanzala 

Ibrahim Wanzala has undoubtedly emerged as a standout performer for Kenya, particularly in the role of goalkeeper. 

With a background in representing the Kenyan U-15 team, he has continued to elevate his game and now competes in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League with Kakamega Homeboyz. 

Wanzala's heroics between the posts have been nothing short of remarkable, with one of his standout moments being the crucial saves of two penalties during a game against Tanzania.

These saves played a pivotal role in securing Kenya's ticket to the finals and showcased Wanzala's skill, composure, and ability to rise to the occasion when his team needed him most.

Other goalkeepers in the squad are; Joshua Keya (Rainbow FC), Junior Odhiambo (Rainbow)

Amos Wanjala 

At a mere 17 years of age, Wanjala exhibits exceptional leadership qualities as he captains his team, making him a standout talent in football. 

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He currently plies his trade at Nastic Sports Academy in Spain, a remarkable achievement at such a young age.

 His skillful displays on the field have garnered him profound accolades and recognition within the footballing world.

Notably, Wanjala showcased his leadership abilities by captaining St. Anthony's to victory in the 2023 KSSSA tournament, further solidifying his reputation as a rising star and an influential figure both on and off the pitch. 

Manzur Okwaro 

Manzur Okwaro is a highly promising center-back who currently turns for Rainbow FC in the National Super League.

His commanding presence on the field and exceptional defensive abilities have garnered significant attention across the country.

Scouts from renowned French side Nantes have identified Okwaro as the most complete central defender to emerge from East Africa, a testament to his immense talent and potential.

Okwaro's proficiency as a center-back is marked by his exceptional ability to read the game, intercept passes, and make crucial tackles. 

His physicality, combined with excellent positioning and aerial prowess, makes him a formidable force in the heart of the defense. 

Moreover, his composure on the ball and ability to initiate attacks from the backline make him a modern-day defender, highly sought after by top clubs.

Baron Ochieng

Baron Ochieng is a rising star in Kenyan football, making a significant impact as a defender for the Junior Stars. 

Currently, he showcases his skills in the Football Kenya Federation Premier League with Sofapaka. 

Ochieng's journey to the top tier of Kenyan football commenced with Kibera United at the beginning of the season. 

He has consistently stood out as one of the best performers for the U-18 national team, the Junior Stars.

 With his talent and dedication, Ochieng is poised for a promising career, and his impressive performances at both the club and national levels attest to his potential to shine in the footballing world.

Other defender : Joseph Bate (MOFA)

Stanley Wilson 

Stanley Wilson is a highly skilled midfielder whose journey to success started at Darajani Gogo in the second-tier of Kenyan football. 

His rise through the ranks has been nothing short of impressive, and his polished style of play has garnered attention at every step.

 Wilson's exceptional talent and hard work earned him a coveted call-up to the senior national team, Harambee Stars.

He is currently a vital asset to the FKF Premier League side, Kariobangi Sharks, where he continues to showcase his prowess on the pitch. 

Lucas Maina 

Lucas Maina, a football talent with an inspiring story, emerged as a standout player during his journey through the ranks.

He gained recognition as a key member of the 2018 Copa Coca-Cola Africa champions with St. Anthony's Boys High School, where he showcased his exceptional skills on the field. 

Maina's footballing roots trace back to the streets of Laini Saba, Kibera, a testament to his determination and grit. 

After making the leap from Division one league side Kibera Soccer FC, he has become a fan favorite at military side Ulinzi Stars FC. 

Maina continues to impress as a midfield maestro, particularly shining for the Junior Stars in the ongoing CECAFA U-18 championship.

Sigmun Maina 

Sigmun Maina's football journey is a testament to his remarkable talent and dedication.

Starting in the youth ranks of Kariobangi Sharks, he swiftly earned promotion to the senior side and made an unforgettable league debut last season.

Fans and pundits were left in awe of his potential as he showcased his skills on the field. 

Maina's ability to seamlessly transition from the youth team to the senior squad speaks volumes about his abilities. 

The youngster has been a standout performer for the Junior Stars in the ongoing CECAFA U-18 championship, further solidifying his reputation as a rising star in Kenyan football. His future in the sport looks incredibly promising.

Alvin Kasavuli 

Alvin Kasavuli, a product of St. Anthony's Boys, has embarked on an exciting journey in his football career. 

Currently, he plies his trade as a midfielder for Nastic Sports Academy in Spain, where he continues to develop his skills on an international stage.

Tyron Kariuki 

Tyron Kariuki, at just 17 years old, has already made a name for himself in Kenyan football with his exceptional speed and elusive dribbling skills. 

He is a constant source of trouble for defenders, using his agility and creativity to keep them on their toes. 

Kariuki plays a crucial role for the National Super League side Rainbow FC, where his talents shine bright. 

Moreover, he has consistently been one of the standout performers for the Junior Stars in the ongoing CECAFA U-18 championship, further solidifying his reputation as a young talent to watch.

Joseph Omuse

Omuse, an attacking midfielder, has a remarkable story of overcoming adversity. 

Orphaned at a young age, he lived on the streets of Bungoma before a preacher rescued him and enrolled him in primary school.

 Today, he is the school's games captain at St. Anthony's Kitale and recently made headlines when former Leeds United striker Moreno Rodrygo gifted him expensive football boots.

Other midfielders: Collins Ochieng, Kevin Musambai (Kariobangi Sharks), Humphrey Omondi, Adrian Oloo (Nairobi United), Elly Owande, Dalphene Ezekiah (Shabana FC)

Louise Ingavi 

Ingavi has been a revelation for the Junior Stars, leading the line with excellence. 

His ability to score goals and contribute to the team's attacking play has been remarkable. 

His journey from the 2023 School Games to a scholarship at Sima School in the USA and a call-up to represent the Kenya national U-18 team is nothing short of inspiring.

Aldrine Kibet 

Aldrine Kibet, with his remarkable mindset, has garnered widespread recognition, both on and off the pitch.

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 The former Solidarity Boys prodigy has found his brilliance at Spain's Nastic Sports Academy.

Kibet's attacking flair was on full display during the 2023 KSSSA tournament, where he netted numerous goals. In the ongoing CECAFA U-18 championships, he has already bagged three goals. 

His outstanding performance continues to captivate audiences solidifying his status as a rising stars in Kenyan football.

Other forwards: Syphas Otieno, Dancan Odhiambo

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