Hockey queens Telkom are two matches away from a record 10th Africa Cup of Club Championships crown.
Yesterday, the reigning continental champions extended their smooth run when they beat arch rivals Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) 1-0 to close in on their title defence bid.
Not even cheers from the crowds that had turned up at Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in Accra, Ghana, to rally behind hosts could stop the Kenyan girls from stamping their authority.
Veteran Terry Juma’s goal just seconds to the final whistle made all the difference in a hotly contested match that almost ended goalless.
Jos Openda, the Telkom coach, praised his charges for their bravery and ability to remain focused. “I’m glad my players were strong enough to shake off pressure that the crowd piled on them,” Openda said. Openda, who has led Telkom to nine Africa titles, said their strategy was to take one match at a time.
From the onset, the two sides mounted a series of attacks as they played defensively with their back lines well-guarded. Just like in their previous encounters, they created equal chances in the first quarter, though none of them utilised them to take the lead. Jackline Mwangi and Audrey Omaido came close to putting Telkom in the lead, but the Ghanaians battled to keep their fans' moral high.
GRA gathered confidence and moved into Telkom’s half. Eristina Coffeein connected well with Vivian Narkuor and Sarfoa Owusu as they threatened to break the deadlock, but their efforts were thwarted. Telkom defenders Terry Juma, Lilian Aura, and Maureen Okumu stopped the Ghanaians’ surge.
But it was do-or-die in the last 15 minutes as each team trained their sights on Saturday’s final. Telkom failed to convert their first two penalty corners count while GRA wasted their chances, with goalkeeper Cynthia Onyango stopping the opponents attempts. Telkom’s Juma successfully converted a short corner in the 59th minute to glide into the finals.