Silver medallists are eyeing the top spot after finishing second behind Laiser Hill last year.
East Africa boys’ football champions Barding have their work cut out as they begin their Nyanza Region title defence at Homa Bay High School today.
They know too well that to defend their East African crown in Gulu, Uganda, in August, they must retain the Nyanza trophy and rule in the national finals set for Nyeri early next month.
They are seeking a repeat of last year’s success, when they won the elusive football crown that had for many years remained the preserve of Ugandan teams. Despite finishing second after losing to Laiser Hill Academy in last year’s national final, Barding recovered in good time and shocked 11-time East Africa champions St Mary’s Kitende of Uganda 1-0 to lift the regional gong.
Fielding a relatively new squad this year, Barding coach Thadeus Wanjir is confident that his charges are equal to the task.
“Most of my key players from last year’s triumphant squad finished Form Four. At the moment, I have very young players but I believe in their talent and abilities, and I’m confident they will deliver,” Wanjir said.
Barding will have to make do without industrious attacking midfielder Ziko Kombo, former captain John Oginga, Clement Okiring and Dennis Junior.
The successful defenders of the Siaya County title are in Group A together with Kanga of Migori, Gesero Mixed of Kisii and St Paul’s Ligisa of Homa Bay.
Group B has Got Agulu Mixed of Siaya, Homa Bay champions Our Lady of Mercy Ringa Boys, St Ignatius Loyola Magadi Mixed of Kisumu and Nyansiongo of Nyamira.
Defending champions Nyakach Girls of Kisumu highlight Group A of the girls' battle. They will be up against Jera Mixed of Siaya, St Gema of Migori and Bishop Okulu Magare of Homa Bay.
Homa Bay champions Kobala launch their quest in Group B against Gesero Mixed, Gekomoni Mixed of Nyamira and Abwao of Kisumu. Kobala, who won silver in 2015, failed to make it to last year's finals.
Sega Girls will be defending their title.