The Kenya Hockey Union is harbouring high hopes that the national teams will perform well in next month’s tournament in Egypt.
The men’s and women’s teams are targeting tickets to next year’s World Cup in the competition which will run from 19 to 29 October.
Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) patron Chris Diaz told The Standard Sports yesterday that there is a lot of talent in Kenya and that the union is positive about performance because both the men’s and women’s teams have shown that they can stage a good fight against some of the best countries in Africa.
“Locally, we have good talent in hockey and I am very optimistic that Kenya’s flag will be flying up there in Egypt next month in the qualification tournament. The aim is to get the best out of our teams and as the patron, I’ll be working around what can make our teams achieve the best,” said Diaz.
He added: “We are working round the clock to improve the status of hockey in Kenya at all levels.”
Diaz has a hockey background as a player and has been the patron since late last year.
With South Africa having qualified for the global showpiece through the International Hockey Federation World League Series, team coach Willis Otieno has singled out Ghana to be Kenya’s major threat. He believes the country has the perfect opportunity to secure their maiden World Cup appearance.
“The battle will certainly be between us and Ghana and I believe we have an edge over them. Besides the history that is favouring us, we are also working very hard to ensure that we are in perfect form for the challenge,” Otieno said.
The Kenyan girls will have to be at their best to overcome the Ghanaians, who are currently Africa’s second ranked in women’s hockey. Ghana beat Kenya 1-0 in September 2016 during the World League One Series and Otieno believes they were unlucky not to win that match.
“We missed some crucial players in that game who are now back in the team and we want to exact revenge and go to the World Cup,” the tactician added.
Otieno is, however, worried that the days allocated for training are not sufficient as both teams train twice a week.
A provisional team of 30 players had been called up and Otieno said attendance has been impressive.