The inaugural Ufasimba UFA Cup 2021 Edition kicked off on October 9. The two-day tournament had created much buzz in the Kenyan youth soccer scene and has attracted most of the “heavyweights”. Each age category had its fair share of perennial title contenders.
Undaunted, Chezasports Academy, CSA, registered 8 teams across the under 7, 9,11,13, and 15 age group categories. Unfortunately, due to mostly financial constraints and other unrelated issues, a significant number of players, some key, had to sit out this tournament. All teams were affected, some more. This made the seemingly tough job ahead appear even tougher.
The tournament lived up to its billing. All the teams came to compete. The game officiating and facility organization was standard. This made for scintillating viewing for the impressively large number of youth soccer supporters present. It is in this context, that we herald the extraordinary exploits of CSA players in this maiden, high profile festival of soccer. They once again exemplified CSA’s growing reputation of having team spirit.
The CSA’s under-9 age group team is in transition, that is most of its players have graduated this year from the under-7 age group team. This year has seen CSA field the youngest team in this age category in all competitions. Results tell as they have been the whipping boys, with not even a single competitive game win to tell.
In the group stages, the elite team, “Simba ”, and development “foxes” were pooled in relatively competitive groups. To advance into the main cup semi-final a team had to top the group. This meant securing favorable results against favorites Ufasimba Green, the hosts, and MEC Platinum respectively. Being pragmatic, CSA’s modest goal for these two teams was to register the first tournament win of the year. In addition, as a bonus qualify for either the plate and bowl cups, by finishing second or third in their groups respectively.
On both fronts, the two teams did not disappoint. The Simbas and foxes not only qualified for the plate and bowl cup respectively, but they did it in style. En route, Simba notched up two wins and a draw scoring an impressive 9 goals and conceding just 4. The most memorable of the wins was against the hosts beating them 2 to1 The team's good run was predictably cut short at the semi-final by the on-form Sakata Under 9 side., the eventual plate cup winners.
This team's resurgence was spearheaded by its top hitman Jeremy Ulaka. Jeremy coming off a long goal drought chose the perfect stage to rediscover his mojo. His 5 tournament goals were a two-goal shy of him being the top scorer.
Despite none of our teams appearing in the main cup semi-finals, they were still much interest from the CSA soccer fraternity present. Fans were treated to a soccer bonanza in the final match pitting the Ligi Ndogo Planets and Acakoro sides. After 40 minutes of pulsating end-to-end action, this epic tie had to be decided by the dreaded spot-kicks in favor of Ligi Ndogo. The heroics of the young Ligi Ndogo goalkeeper was certainly a tournament highlight.
CSA registered two teams in the under 11 age group category, Simba and Foxes. Weeks to the event the team was coming off a run of poor form. The Simba were pooled together with tournament favorites Sakata and MEC Platinum. This year the team has performed dismally playing against local rivals Sakata, conceding a total of 12 and scoring just y0against them. The matchup would be a litmus test of the team's progress level. The match was intense with none giving an inch, however, CSA’s renowned team spirit carried the day. U11 Simba came away 2-0 winners, with Ethan Barasa getting a brace and the match’s MVP award..
The sweet win undoubtedly spurred on the team. They upset the formbook by marching all the way to the main cup finals. On they dispatched another heavyweight in this category, MEC Planet, in definitively one of the matches of the tournament. The match was a seesaw affair filled with high drama. U11 Simba scored the second and what seemed to be the match-winner late on, only for it to be canceled at the last kicks of the game. Simba advanced on penalties to set up an uphill task against a seasoned Ayiera Initiative side from Korogoocho. The final match was not to be a one-sided affair as feared, indeed in fireworks, it proved to be a replica of the semi-final clash against MEC Planet. This time after a 2-2 full-time score, the Simba’s roar was silenced at the spot-kick deciders, losing honorably.
The U11 foxes were most affected by the last-minute player pull-out. They had to play the tournament two-player less. Understandably no one gave them a chance of going past the pool. The team put up an extraordinary effort, qualifying for the main cup semi-finals. Another testament to CSA’s team spirit.