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SPORTS

Major events that will leave Kenyan fans drooling

ATHLETICS By Washington Onyango | January 2nd 2022
Ferdinand Omanyala celebrates after 100m final during The Kip Keino Classic-World Athletics Continental Tour 2021 at Kasarani. September 18, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

After a year of hits and misses, hopes for impressive performances are high ahead of this year’s calendar of events in sports.

Last year was certainly a moment to forget. It was marred by endless Covid-19 interruptions as well as controversies that most sports athletes would wish not to remember.

While some were denied space to compete (there was no local hockey league in 2021), others in athletics, football, rugby and basketball gave their all despite constant stoppages and postponement of activities from time to time.

Standard Sports looks at selected top sports events, which Kenyans will headline this year.

Hockey: Africa Cup of Nations

After very little hockey action locally last year, the Kenya national teams will be putting their best foot forward ahead of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations.

Kenya women’s team has been pooled in Group B together with hosts Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.

While the performance of the national teams at the previous African Nations Cup has continued to dwindle, many await to see how their performance will pan out in Ghana.

In 2017, in South Africa, the men’s team finished fourth in the five-nation event that saw South Africa emerge overall winners ahead of Egypt. Ghana finished third while Nigeria finished last.

In the women’s category, the East Africans were ranked fourth in the five-nation event.

The Kenya national men’s hockey team will face defending champions South Africa at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations to be played at the Theodosia Okoh Stadium in Accra, Ghana this month.

Kenya are in Group A alongside South Africa and Namibia. The continental tournament will run from January 17-23.

Captain Gilly Okumu in Africa Cup of Nations Test match against Uganda at Sikh Union on Sunday, March 21, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Football: Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup

The national women’s side Harambee Starlets did Kenya proud after winning all their matches played last year.

Starlets are on course to qualifying for the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations.

The national women’s football team will renew their rivalry against neighbours Uganda’s Crested Cranes when they clash in the second round of the 2022 AWCON qualifiers in February.

Kenya advanced to the second round after hammering South Sudan 15-1 on aggregate win.

On the other hand, Uganda sailed through after beating Ethiopia 2-1 on post-match penalties after the two teams tied 2-2 on aggregate at the end of the second leg played at Bahir Dar International Stadium in Ethiopia.

Kenya will host the first leg of the contest which is scheduled for February 14 before travelling across the border on February 23 to play Uganda.

In the 2016 AWCON tournament played in Cameroon, Kenya were knocked out in the group stage after losing 3-1 to Ghana, Mali (3-1) and Nigeria (4-0).

Kenya missed the 2018 edition after falling to Equatorial Guinea in the qualifying matches. 

The 2022 AWCON finals will take place in Morocco between July 2 to July 23 and will double up as the African qualifiers for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Harambee Starlets Mercyline Anyango (left) and Mary Dan of South Sudan in the Africa Women Cup of Nations Qualifiers return leg match at the Nyayo National Stadium, Oct 23, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Cecafa Women Club Championships and CAF women’s champions league

2021 was a year women football in Kenya shone brighter than their men’s counterparts, who failed to impress on the international stage, both for club and national team assignments.

It was all joy to see the lowly-favoured Vihiga Queens dominate the East African regional club’s championship and represent the region in the continental showpiece in North Africa.

Vihiga’s Jentrix Shikangwa and Cecafa Women Club Championships are inextricably linked in the minds of all.

The 20-year-old striker was the star of the Cecafa championships after helping her club Vihiga Queens qualify for the inaugural CAF Women Champions League. 

This year, the reigning FKF Women’s Premier League champions Thika Queens will be eyeing to achieve Vihiga Queens’ feat as they look to play in their maiden Cecafa tournament.

According to the rule, champions of the respective Cecafa zonal leagues qualify automatically for the East African championship.

Winning the zonal Cecafa gong will see Thika Queens qualify for their maiden Champions League.

Deaflympics in brazil

Kenya men’s deaf basketball team qualified for Brazil 2022 Deaflympics Championships in September.

The side booked a ticket to the global event after their opponents Uganda, Rwanda and Zanzibar failed to show up for the Africa Deaflympics Ball Games qualifiers at Kasarani Stadium, in Nairobi.

By qualifying for Brazil, Kenya retained its top position in Africa in the sport.

Globally, Kenya is ranked eighth following their last-place finish in the contest in Bulgaria in 2013 and Turkey in 2017.

Kenya women’s deaf football will also grace the 24th edition scheduled for May 1-15, 2022.

Kenya Women Football team B celebrating after beating Kenya team A during the 1st Africa Deaflympics Ball Game Qualifiers champions at The Moi International Sports Center Kasarani. Sept 25, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Rugby: world seven series and world cup

The 2021 rugby calendar year was fair compared with other disciplines like football, hockey and basketball.

Despite Covid-19 disruptions, Kenya hosted four successful continental championships in rugby.

Shujaa will be seeking to bounce back stronger when the 2021-2022 World Sevens Series resumes in this month with the Spain Sevens.

Kenya registered mixed results after a tough outing that saw them make only three wins out of the 12 matches played across the two opening Dubai Sevens legs. Overall, Kenya are eighth in the standings with 22 points.

For Kenya Simbas, the hunt for the 2021-2022 Rugby Africa Cup continues as Kenya and Senegal, together with other winners, face-off in the quarter-final which will also be used as Africa’s qualifying round to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The qualifying round will be played in July in France where Kenya will face off with Uganda while Senegal will play Algeria.

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