The curtains have finally come down on the inaugural Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championships with Niger and Ghana winning the Boy?s and Girl?s tournament respectively.

Niger beat Zambia 5-4 on post-match penalties to win the 2012 Airtel Rising Stars Africa under 17 football boys trophy. Both teams played a fast paced match with no scores during the regular 90 minutes despite numerous missed chances for both team. The match was deadlocked after extra time and had to go into penalties to decide the winners.

Niger scored all their penalties courtesy of Mamane Karibou, Issa Souleymane, Abubacar Timbo, Idrissa Amadou and Issifou Garba. Timothy Sakala, Thomas Juma Mutale, Denis Chebuye and Albert Bwalya were on target for Zambia while Shadrack Chimanya missed.

In the Girl?s finals, Ghana came from a goal behind to upset the tournament hosts and favorites, Kenya to win 2-1. Vivian Odhiambo had given the hosts the lead in the 27th minute before Emelia Lokko leveled the terms in the 43rd minute. Patience Narh notched home the winner for the visitors in the 56th minute.

The final matches were attended by Peter Schmeichel, one of Manchester United?s most decorated legends. Schmeichel, who was appointed as one of the club?s ambassador, handed the medals and trophies to the two winning sides.

The Championship was part of the Airtel Rising Stars program, a soccer talent initiative that is focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage. Touted as the biggest tournament in the continent the qualifying rounds attracted approximately 18,000 youth teams and 324,000 youth players in the 15 countries.? In addition to galvanising the biggest turnout during the qualification stage, the program has also broken new ground by introducing girls to a pan African tournament.

432 rising stars travelled to Nairobi courtesy of Airtel operations across the continent to attend this football tournament. The Young budding stars showcased some of the finest football talent on the African the continent.

By winning the tournament, Ghana and Niger took home USD 10,000 winners cash prize each. Equally, both teams received a wild card entry to the two separate soccer clinics run by soccer coaches run by soccer coaches from the Manchester United and Arsenal Soccer Schools in Nairobi and Accra respectively.

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