Telkom target 10th title Africa title: Openda’s charges are breathing fire ahead of contest

Orange Telkom Ruth Njoki(l) protects the ball as Strathmore Jane Apondi give chase when they played women National League at City Park, Nairobi. ON 15/04/2017

Champions will start campaign against Nigeria’s Yobe Desert Queens.

Telkom hockey queens launch their Africa Cup of Club Championships title defence bid against Yobe Desert Queens of Nigeria today.

The Kenyan girls are eyeing a perfect start in their opening match at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in Accra, Ghana. Kenya will also be represented by Strathmore University Scorpions who will be returning to the event after missing the last two editions.

The two Kenyan sides with be up against other two sides in battle for the continental crown. The country will not be represented in the men’s category after Strathmore Gladiators and Butali Sugar Warriors pulled out of the championships.

Jos Openda, the Telkom coach, said they were expecting stiff competition but remained confident his charges are ready to stop any aggression. "Playing in Ghana has not been easy but we have worked hard in readiness for the challenge and I believe that our efforts will bear fruit,” Openda said.

Telkom target a top two finish in the first round -- which will be played in a round robin format -- to book their place in the finals. Having won their 20th women’s title last weekend, they will be out to complete a double.

Veteran Jackline Mwangi, who is currently the league's top scorer, and Audrey Omaido will lead Telkom’s goal hunt. Openda will also rely on industrious Maureen Okumu who has been in fine form throughout the season. Captain Tracy Karanja, Lilian Aura and Caroline Guchu will take charge of the midfield. International Terry Juma, Flavia Mutiva and Lucy Wangeci will guard Telkom’s back line with Cynthia Anyango expected to start in goal.

Scorpions, on the other hand, announce their return to the continental scene by taking on home girls Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). The Kenyan students long to stage a revenge against the Ghanaians who beat them 3-2 in third place playoffs of the 2014 edition held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Scorpions coach Meshack Sense admitted his charges are eager to return to the continental scene. “We have a relatively young and inexperienced side but our strength lies in our structures and team work and we can’t wait to get going,” Senge said.

Senge will bank on the experience of international Gilly Okumu, skipper Yvonne Karanja and midfielder Carol Njoki to guide the students to an opening win and their maiden title. Former captain Lucy Wanjiku and Denise Odongo will also be hoping to shine and make it to the finals.

Strathmore’s best performance was a silver medal in Kampala, Uganda during the 2013 edition. Karanja, who emerged the top scorer will be out to try her luck again and score more goals. Njoki and Wanjiku who were also part of the silver medal-winning squad will be hoping to secure a podium finish.

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