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Hockey: Mwangi ready to lead Kenya past New Zealand in Commonwealth Games opener

Kenya women's hockey head coach Jacqueline Mwangi during a training session at the Sikh Union Club in Nairobi on July 19, 2022 ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games between Thursday, 28 Jul 2022 – Mon, 8 Aug 2022 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Kenya women’s hockey team will kick off their Commonwealth Games kick off match against New Zealand on Friday from 11am East African Time in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Kenya are in Group B alongside defending champions New Zealand, 2014 winners Australia, Scotland and South Africa. Group A has India, Canada, Wales, Ghana and England.

They will kick off their campaign tomorrow against New Zealand, before taking on Australia the following day from 4pm local time.

Kenya will then battle Scotland on August 1 at 11am (EAT) before they complete their group matches with a clash against African giants South Africa on August 2 (4pm).

Speaking ahead of the games, Kenya head coach Jackie Mwangi said she believes in the girls and they have prepared timely for the games.

“It is a good opportunity for the girls to play against some of the best players and teams in the world. We have a blend of experience and youth which is healthy for the team and we are going to show that we can also play hockey at the highest level,” said the former Blazers striker.

The top two teams in each pool will qualify for the semi-final.

The national women’s hockey team continued with their preparations with a match against Africa Nations Cup silver medalists Ghana.

Commonly refereed as ‘Blades’, Kenya narrowly lost 2-1 to Ghana in a buildup match played on Tuesday night.

Former Sinyolo Girls star and Lakers Hockey Club striker Alice Owiti scored the lone goal for the Blades as the girls continue sharpening their sticks ahead of the games.

Kenya were awarded a berth through the re-allocation of returned qualification slots from the teams placed higher in the FIH World ranking teams who opted not to come.

They joined Ghana and South Africa to compete at the Commonwealth Games, the two nations having received qualification as the continents top two ranked nations.

Strathmore University Scorpions striker Gilly Okumu will captain the national women’s hockey team at the Commonwealth Games.

Okumu who has been instrumental in Scorpions perfect start to the now paused Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) women’s Premier League will take over from Rhoda Kuira who failed to make the cut of 18-players.

Okumu together with 17-other players and five officials arrived in Birmingham last Sunday.

Kenya Hockey fixtures at Commonwealth Games

Friday: Kenya v New Zealand-11am

Saturday: Kenya v Australia-4pm

Monday: Kenya v Scotland-11am

Tuesday: Kenya v South Africa-4pm

(All times zone are East African Times)