The stage is set for Africa’s premier junior tournament, the Barthes Cup. A contingent of eight teams are in Nairobi and will battle it out across three match days for the continental honors.
Only two teams, Kenya and Madagascar, return to the tournament with Senegal conspicuously missing.
An increase in the number of teams taking part this year means that hosts and defending champions, Kenya U20, have their work cut out if they wish to defend their title for the second time on home soil.
Former Champions Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar and neighbors Uganda are all confirmed participants of this year’s Barthes Trophy tournament that will take place from 9 April to 17 April at the Nyayo National Stadium.
We take a look at the four match ups that will set the pace on day one of the tournament.
Tunisia vs Zimbabwe
Both these teams make a return to Pool A of Barthes Trophy having spent their fair share of time in Pool B. Tunisia were relegated in 2019 after they lost 28-16 to Senegal in the 3rd place play-off.
One thing is for sure, both sides will be aiming for a strong start. The winner of this duel will meet the winner of quarterfinal 3.
Namibia vs Cote d’Ivoire
2019 losing finalists Namibia make a comeback to the tournament they missed last year due to the adverse effects of the novel Covid-19 in their camp. Cote d’Ivoire are making their first appearance at the tournament. Traditionally big boys in terms of physique, the West Africans will need to bring their A-Game if they are to beat Namibia in the tournament’s very first game.
Madagascar vs Zambia
Last year’s crowd favorite and surprise package Junior Makis of Madagascar will take on Zambia in the third quarter final. They missed out on the title by a whisker last time out and will be hoping to replicate their strong start when they face Zambia on Saturday morning. Zambia will be squaring it out with big boys for the first time and with their neighbors Zimbabwe potentially waiting in the semifinals, writing them off could be a huge mistake.
Kenya vs Uganda
The junior version of the Elgon Cup will be Saturday’s showstopper. Defending champions Kenya kick off their title defense against a plucky Ugandan side who have a sizeable bite in their bark. These two sides last met in the junior competition back in 2014, Kenya winning that one in front of a home crowd at the RFUEA.
A strong start against Uganda will surely be in Head Coach Curtis Olago’s pre-match notes. In July 2021, Kenya managed to hold out Madagascar 21-20 in the title decider. Olago will have the experience of returning Captain John Baraka as well as the talents of Tyson Maina, Samwel Mwaura and Anderson Oduor to count on.
Quarter-Final 1– Namibia vs Cote d’Ivoire (9 AM)
Quarter-Final 2– Tunisia vs Zimbabwe ( 11.30 AM)
Quarter-Final 3– Madagascar vs Zambia (2 PM)
Quarter-Final 4– Kenya vs Uganda (4.30 PM)
Namibia Squad: Leonardo Bayer, Bernd Beddies, Geraldo Beukes, Darren Beukes, Oela Blaauw, Conwille Draghoender, Ray-Eez Feris, Frederich Grobbelaar, Riaan Grove, Owen Hawanga, Niel Holtzhausen, Rowan Jansen, Alexander Jansen, Patrick Karsten, Quirine Majiedt, Lucky Mauha, Upahee Muhuura, Gregory Namaseb, Jan Otto, Franco Pearson, Henri Rossouw, Iyambo Tshuuya, Rashano van Rooi and Janes van Zyl.
Uganda Squad: Byaruhanga Alexander, Nkonte Joel Hosea, Louis Oboi, Emma Kiyaga,Alvin Rukundo, Sebidandi Derrick, Edward Emiemu, Champara Herbert, Tumwebaze Winston, Wandera Brian, Mwadeghu Charles Ryan, Thembo Jeremy B, Ochieng Blaise, Adebua Vani Joshua, Ampaire Kevin, Michael Kalyango, Sentongo Robert, Okello Daniel Malcolm, Kabogoza Hashim, Yasin Waswa, Ochan Emma, Steven Kalema, Edrin Lemeriga, Kansiime Joseph Mwesigwa, Opileni Hossana