East Africa boys’ hockey champions St Anthony’s Kitale gear up for third win

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Friday, April 5th 2019 at 01:30 GMT +3 | Hockey
Upper Hill's Elisha Ogacha (right) against Domnick Simiyu (left) and Kim Webi of St Anthony's. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Reigning national and East Africa boys’ hockey champions St Anthony’s Kitale are gearing up for battle as they seek to win their third trophy in a row and sixth overall.

They will put their title on the line when this year’s Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) Brookside National Term One games begin on Tuesday at Shimo La Tewa School and Shanzu Teachers Training College, Mombasa. St Anthony’s coach Kelvin Lugalia said that with more schools improving they have a tough task ahead of them and they have to be at their best to defend their title.

“Times have changed and this year’s games are a pointer that it is no longer business as usual because new teams are coming up and locking out big names from the nationals. Our title is on the line and so we can’t afford to make mistakes, we must be at our best, remain focused and play each match as if it is the final,” Lugalia said.

From 2018 national games lineup, only St Anthony’s and Meru School survived as their peers fell at the regional or county level. Last year’s silver and bronze medalists Upper Hill and Musingu were eliminated at Nairobi and Western Region games while 2016 East Africa winners Kisumu Day fell in the hands of novices Homabay in Nyanza final.

Despite losing most players from his 2018 triumphant squad Lugalia remains confident. “Nine players from last year’s winning team finished school but I’m not worried because I have structures in place and they have been replaced by youngsters who are equally good and eager to perfectly fit in their shoes. I’m passionate about hockey and my aim is to develop players, five of the nine who finished school last year already play for Strathmore University it means that I’m achieving my objectives.”

Midfielders Basil Wamalwa and Brian Ogenche, forwards Lawrence Sikolia and Nicholas Muchiti, as well as defender Augustine Mburu, were signed by Strathmore Gladiators. In Mombasa, Lugalia will bank on forwards Oscar Kibet and Logan Mabuka to lead their goal hunt. Matthias Gularire and Emmanuel Loyatum will marshal the midfield while defenders Glen Lusweti and Bradley Kiptoo will guard the backline to ensure that goalkeeper Noah Barasa is properly shielded from opponents’ threats.

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St Anthonys are in Group B where they will be up against St Georges from Coast, Meru School from Eastern, and newcomers Mpesa Foundation Academy from Central. Western’s Kamusinga and homeboys St Charles Lwanga who return to the nationals after a two-year absence are in Group A which also has debutants Homabay High and city boys Nairobi School.

Kamusinga will be hoping to advance to the knockouts and renew their rivalry with St Anthony’s as well as reclaim the title they won in 2016 when they hosted the national games.

Group A

St Charles Lwanga (Coast)

Homabay High (Nyanza)

Friends School Kamusinga (Western)

Nairobi School (Nairobi)

Group B

St Georges (Coast)

Meru School (Eastern)

St Anthony’s Kitale (Rift Valley)

Mpesa Foundation Academy (Central)

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