Wazalendo ready for Zamalek tie as Africa Cup begins

Wazalendo players warm-up when they played National League Men at City Park Nairobi. 09/03/2019 (Jenipher Wachie, Standard)

Wazalendo Hockey Club are confident of registering positive results as they begin the 2021 Africa Cup for Clubs Championship with a clash against Egyptian giants Zamalek today at the Theodosia Okoh Stadium in Accra, Ghana.

The team's head coach Fidelis Kimanzi said they are looking forward to giving  their fans something to smile about in Accra.

Speaking to Standard Sports, Kimanzi said he believes in his youthful squad and they are not going to disappoint.

“Finishing runner-up in the local league showed how good we are as a team. We have players who are talented and ready to give everything on the pitch and it fits even better to get the international exposure at the African Cup tournament,” said Kimanzi.

“As a team, we are looking forward to achieve our main goal, which is to get more of our players into the national team and also give them a chance to be scouted by other top clubs in the world."

The Kenyan outfit will be hoping to replicate their 2007 victory against the Egyptians when they defeated them 3-2 in a friendly match.

“It is true, we are very unlucky to be amongst the few teams that will be competing in an international tournament without an active local league. We accept our positions and that is why we started preparations very early,” said Kimanzi.

Wazalendo, who are returning to the continental scene after a 14-year hiatus, are the only Kenyan representatives in the annual tournament after local champions Butali Warriors pulled out due to financial constraints.

They are drawn in a tricky Group B consisting of opponents from Egypt and Ghana.

Wazalendo will play 2018 runner-up Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), newcomers Tairat and Zamalek all from Egypt according to the men’s draws released by African Hockey Federation.

The 18-strong member squad that arrived in the host nation are Solomon Murila, Job Odhiambo, John Otora, Esbon Nyong’a, Dan Obonyo and Dennis Burudi.

Others are Griffin Amakule, Bonface Wemali, Cliff Omari,Joseph Ndegwa, Stanely Ndaiga, Mathew Momanyi, Sutcliffe Usagi, Brian Sasha, Danstone Wabwire, Joseph Kasua and Allan Munene.

Former champions Eastern Company from Egypt, hosts Ghana Army and Ghana Police, Kada Stars and Police Machine both from Nigeria, are in Group A.

The top two teams in each group will proceed to the semi-finals.

Wazalendo finished second in men’s league behind Butali Warriors to qualify for the annual event.

In the women’s category, Kenya failed to send any participant to the continental showpiece after local champions Blazers and United States of International University Africa pulled out citing lack of financial support. 

The women’s event, thus attracted five clubs across Africa.

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