Niger and Ghana have won the inaugural Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championships in the Boy’s and Girl’s tournament respectively with $10,000 cash prize each and partnership with Arsenal and Manchester run Soccer clinics.

Niger beats Zambia 5-4 on post-match penalties to win the 2012 Airtel Rising Stars Africa under 17 football boys trophy.

A statement issued in Accra by Both Michael Okwiri, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Airtel Africa, said both teams played a fast paced match with no scores during the regular 90 minutes despite numerous missed chances.

It said the match was deadlocked after extra time and had to go into penalties to decide the winners.

According to the statement the Niger team scored all their penalties courtesy of Mamane Karibou, Issa Souleymane, Abubacar Timbo, Idrissa Amadou and Issifou Garba.

Meanwhile Timothy Sakala, Thomas Juma Mutale, Denis Chebuye and Albert Bwalya were on target for Zambia while Shadrack Chimanya missed.

It noted that 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 gave 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 Championship was part of the Airtel Rising Stars programme, 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 from 15 countries.

As an addition to the program there has been the introduction of girls to the pan African tournament.

Participating countries included Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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