Defending champions Kisumu Day High School had a point to prove and it didn't take them long before they did exactly that.
The 016 East Africa football champions thrashed rivals Barding High School from Siaya 3-1 in the Nyanza Region Secondary School boys' football, at Asumbi Training Teachers College, in Homa Bay.
In what was a repeat of the disputed 2019 regional finals that were played at Moi Stadium in Kisumu, Kisumu Day led 2-1 at the break before sealing the victory in the final half.
In 2019, Barding defeated Kisumu Day before the latter appealed the loss, claiming the 2016 East Africa football champions fielded an illegible player.
Kisumu Day was awarded the title while Barding served a two-year ban, which they served during the Covid-19 era.
Thursday, the football pitch at Asumbi TTC was packed to the brim as many anticipated a fierce battle. And the two teams didn't disappoint. There they were, in body and spirit, for that pool B match.
Brian Otieno sent fans into a frenzy after opening the scores inside the first 20 minutes when he guided the ball into the net after a series of team build-up passes.
Five minutes later, Dan Omalla, who is a younger brother to Gor Mahia's teenage striker Benson Omalla, doubled the scores as Kisumu Day took a comfortable 2-0 lead with less than half an hour played.
Barding later came back into the game after reducing the scores to 2-1 when Davis Otieno scored a penalty in the 32nd minute as the match went into the break with the Kisumu County champions in the lead.
In the final half, Desmond Odhiambo jumped higher than the Barding defense to head in Kisumu Day's third goal, which sealed the win for Andrew Aroka's side.
Speaking after the win, Kisumu Day head coach Aroka said they have showed who is the best between the two side, but called for calm ahead of their final pool match today against Kanga High School.
"The players gave their all today against a very tough opponent. We executed our game plan accordingly and I am happy that despite a few instances of errors, we are scoring goals for fun," said Aroka.
"Our goal once again is to reach the nationals in Nakuru and possibly qualify for the East Africa games in Arusha, Tanzania. Today, we get to the semis then we will see what's next."
His Barding counterpart Wellington Murwayi blamed his defeat to fatigue from their long travel, saying they spent five hours on the road on their way to Homa Bay, only to play without adequate rest.
"My boys were tired. We could not run and contain our opponents who were too good for us. We had minimal time to prepare for the games after being on the road whole morning," said Murwayi.
The coach, however, said they lost fairly and they are looking forward to bounce back against Kanga.
In girls' football, national champions Nyakach Girls narrowly edged out Jera from Siaya 1-0.
In Kakamega, Mwitoti Secondary, who grabbed defeated Kakamega High School's Green Commandoes, lost 1-0 to Mabunge High as Mwira thrashed St Joseph's Chakol 3-0 in girls' football.