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Title defence begins: Telkom keen to retain Cup with first match against Nigeria’s Babes

HOCKEY By Elizabeth Mburugu | January 8th 2017 | 3 min read
Orange Telkom players celebrate after winning 4-0 against Amira Sailors when they played Premier Ladies at City Park yesterday, on 13/11/2016 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Telkom Orange begin their Africa Cup for Club Championships title defence against El-Raufai Babes of Nigeria today at City Park Stadium.

The Kenyan girls will be out to conquer the West Africans in the opening pool A match.

This is the first time the eight-time continental champions Orange will be meeting the Nigerians.

Coach Jos Openda told Feverpitch they will take a cautious approach as they seek a good start.

“We have to be cautious because we are meeting them for the first time and we are not really sure of what to expect from them because we don’t know their system of play. However, we are not worried because they also don’t know our style of play,” Openda said.

Team captain Tracy Karanja who took over from Betsy Ommalla both at the club and national level will also be out to ensure that she leads her side to another African gong. Karanja will be seeking to maintain the legacy set by Ommalla who has led Orange to four titles in a row from 2012 to 2015 in her reign as skipper.

Karanja said that they are targeting a victory in their event opener. “We are determined to retain our title and the best way to make it happen is to start on a positive note with a victory in our opening match. This is a tricky tie because we don’t know our opponents well. Nonetheless, we have our game plan of listening and following the coach’s instructions and we will surely achieve our goal,” Karanja said

Orange will rely on the services of prolific striker Jackline Mwangi, fast rising Sinyolo Girls alumnus Maureen Okumu, Audrey Omaido, Lilian Aura and Karanja. Veteran Terry Juma, Flavian Mutiva and Lucy Wangechi will be guard the backline while Cynthia Anyango will be in goal for the champions.

In the opening match of the day former holders Heartland of Nigeria open their account against Tanzania women in group B. Last year’s silver medalists Ghana Police women will be out to arrest Wananchi of Uganda in another women’s group B match.

The West Africans who came close to winning the coveted trophy, but let it slip after losing 3-2 to Orange in a penalty shootout in the final will be seeking to win their maiden and also a first for Ghana. In pool A home girls Sliders tackle Egyptian girls Sharkia in the second match

In the men’s contest Weatherhead men of Uganda face an acid test in the hands of reigning champions Eastern Company of Egypt. The East African’s will be seeking to snatch the trophy from their North Africans who have made it their property by winning 25 out of 26 times it has been played. Only Kenya’s defunct Armed Forces dented Egyptians reign by winning the trophy in 1998.

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