Former national boys’ handball champions St Ignatius Mukumu are done playing second fiddle to archrivals St Luke’s Kimilili.
The 2017 winners have been reduced to second-best in countless tournaments by their Western Region rivals Kimilili, who have ensured they don’t shine and make it to the national games.
Kimilili’s dominance over Mukumu has been so strong that they only overcame the regional hurdle to qualify for the nationals Kimilili were disqualified from the games for an irregularity.
Though Kimilili were later given a clean bill of health after investigations were done, it was too late for the record national winners and two-time East Africa champions to compete that year.
Mukumu went on to win the national title after beating Dr Ribeiro Parklands in the 2017 final at Shanzu Teachers College.
However, Mukumu coach Antony Wekesa said it will not be business as usual when this year’s games begin next week at Mundika Boys High School, Busia County.
“This time, we won’t let them have their way easily. We have prepared well and the boys are equal to the task and determined to qualify for the national games. Last year, we never made it to the regional games because we were building a new team,” Wekesa said.
The coach added that they will leave nothing to chance when they face Kimilili in the opening match and will be eying maximum points against the reigning national champions.
“We play them (Kimilili) in our opening match and I think victory against them will boost our confidence as well as our return to the national campaign,” added Wekesa.
Even so, Mukumu will have to be at their best when they take on former national holders and county rivals Musingu, who they beat 26-21 in extra time to lift the Kakamega County trophy last weekend.
Busia’s Kolanya, who have also been impressive in recent years, are also in contention.
Wekesa will bank on goalkeeper Newton Shikode as well as Kevin Watoka, Austin Kwemoi and Sammy Amani to lead their onslaught as they seek to salvage the regional trophy.