Butali Sugar Warriors are through to semis. Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, hosts Butali survived elimination to advance to the knockout stage of the hockey Africa Cup for Club Championships.
Two first half goals from international Emmanuel Simiyu and Vincent Odhiambo were enough to give Warriors a 2-0 win over Niger Flickers of Nigeria in their last pool B match.
While a 3-0 victory was what they needed going into the match, the Kenyans just scored two after which they ended up tied on six points with Ghana Police and former champions Sharkia.
Pool B was tightly contested with the three clubs winning two matches and losing one. Coincidentally the second rule of the tournament that would have seen teams proceed on a superior goal difference could not also be used as they all had a difference of two goals.
The third rule of goals for is what gave the sugar men a lifeline as they had scored five, one more than Sharkia putting them second on the pool standings. Ghanaian law enforcers topped the group with seven goals while Flickers finished last after losing all their matches. Butali will play winners of pool A in Saturday’s semi-final. Butali stand-in coach Meshack Senge said despite having qualified for the semis they were disappointed because they had set out top the pool. “Our first objective was to qualify for the semis and it is good we have done it although not the way we wanted. We now move to our second objective which is to ensure that we play in the finals,” Senge said.
He added: “We will polish the areas that worked for us in the last three matches and also improve on our weakness.”
In the women’s contest, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) laboured to a 4-3 win over their counterparts Ghana Police. With the victory, GRA sealed their semi-final slot while Police will have to play their last pool B match against Dar Ladies of Tanzania.
There fate also depends on the Heartland and GRA tie. The second semi final spot in the pool is tightly contested between Nigeria’s Heartland and Ghana Police who both stand a chance of qualifying.
In other matches, Uganda’s woes continued as Wananchi and Weatherhead fell to Heartland (9-1) and Kada Queens (6-2) respectively. Wananchi beat Dar 2-1 to register their first win.