Arch-rivals Kakamega High School and St Anthony’s Boys have been kept apart in this year’s Airtel Rising Stars National Secondary Schools Term Two B Games that begin in Nyeri on Tuesday.
According to the draws released Tuesday evening, the former national champions headline Pool A and B respectively.
Kakamega, who have won the National title a record 12 times, will tackle 2015 winners Passenga Boys from Central, 2013 runners up Kathungi (Eastern) and a school from the North Eastern region.
Kakamega coach Brendan Mwinamo admitted the draw was “tricky” but remains confident his charges will safely navigate their passage to the semi-finals.
“We have had disappointments over the last two years and we are finally ready to reclaim our place at the top,” Mwinamo said Wednesday.
The Green Commandoes are back at the nationals after missing the last two editions held in Machakos (2015) and Kisumu (2016).
The team will look to emulate the heroics of their Under-16 football team that won the National title at the Two A Games finals in Mombasa a few weeks ago.
They will find stiff opposition in Passenga and Kathungi, with only the top two advancing to the last four.
Three-time winners St Anthony’s come up against the 2013 champions Upper Hill from Nairobi, dark horses Ramisi Boys from Coast Region and newcomers Kanga Boys (Nyanza) in Pool B, seen as the pool of death in the championships.
A new winner will emerge as last year’s champions Laiser Hill failed to reach the nationals.
In the girls’ draw, eight-time winners Wiyeta Girls from Rift Valley are in Pool A alongside hosts Nginda, Western region representatives Ibinzo and Coast’s Kwale Girls.
Pool B has 2013 winners Olympic Mixed, Kobala from Nyanza Region, Njabini and Utithi.
The girls’ competition will also witness a new champion crowned at the end of the games after last year’s winners St John’s Kaloleni from Coast were knocked out in the regional games.
In volleyball, former champions Kwathanze Girls are back in the mix after a one-year absence. They play in Pool B alongside Sega Girls, 23-time winners Lugulu and a yet to be named school from North Eastern.
Pool A has last year’s finalists Soweto Academy, Cheptil, Passenga and St John’s Kaloleni.