Hockey: Kenya humbled 16-0 by New Zealand in Commonwealth opener

Kenya hockey women player Quinter Okose pulls for her bag after their friendly match against Ghana on July 26, 2022 at the University of Birmingham hockey pitch, United Kingdom 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 kicked off their 2022 Commonwealth Games campaign on a low after losing 16-0 to defending champions New Zealand in their opening match played at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre on Friday morning.

Commonly referred to as the Blades, Kenya trailed 9-0 at the break before conceding seven more goals in the final half to mark a poor debut at the Birmingham games.

Olivia Shannon and captain Olivia Merry scored a hat-trick each, Stephanie Dickins, Kaitlyn Cotter, Megan Hull and Alia Jaques netted a brace each while Alex Lukin and Rose Tynan have scored one goal apiece.

The Jackie Mwangi-coached side started the game on the back foot after trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Despite Millicent Adhiambo in goal for Kenya pulling extraordinary saves, the East Africans could not prevent the champions from scoring in the second quarter after letting in six more goals to trail 9-0 at halftime.

Poor communication between defense and goalkeeper, short and over hit passes and failure to close the gaps allowed the defending champions even more freedom and authority in the final half after Kenya allowed three and four goals in the final respective quarters.

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.

Blades will take on Australia on Saturday 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).

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