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Hockey: Women’s national team chase World Cup ticket

HOCKEY By Elizabeth Mburugu | October 22nd 2017
Kenya Flavia Mutiva (l) as Ghana Elizabeth Opoku blocks the ball when they played World League round one at Citypark ,Nairobi. Kenya won 1-0. ON 06/09/14 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

South Africans thrashed Kenya 12-0 in Africa Cup of Nations tie.

The women’s national team will have their work cut out when they face giants South Africa in the opening match of the Africa Hockey Cup of Nations-cum-World Cup qualifier today in Ismailia, Egypt.

The men’s team on the other hand will face perennial rivals Ghana in the opener.

Having settled for bronze in the last two editions of the continental championship, the Kenyan girls will be seeking a better result at this year’s event.

However, they face an uphill task against Africa champions South Africa who will be out to defend their honour.

The South Africans will only be in the tournament to defend their title having already qualified for the World Cup through the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League series.

In their last meeting during the 2015 edition of the biennial tourney, South Africa whipped Kenya 12-0.

Even so, national team coach Wilson Otieno remains optimistic that his charges are capable of causing an upset.

“South Africa are a very good side but we also have a chance and we are determined to give the match our best.

“In terms of build up to this tournament they had better preparation than us, but the girls are yearning to give a good account of themselves,” Otieno said.

Otieno, a former Kenya international and Sikh Union player will be guiding the women for the first time and will be under pressure to prove his mettle.

Telkom’s Lilian Aura who is also the most-capped player with 41 senior international appearances will captain the team.

Youngster Maureen Okumu also of Telkom and Gilly Okumu of Strathmore University will lead Kenya’s goal hunt.

Aura, former skipper Tracy Karanja also of Telkom and Strathmore’s Yvonne Karanja will marshal the midfield.

Veteran Terry Juma, Flavian Mutiva and Rachel Ousa all of Telkom as well as Elizabeth Ngombo and Jane Muragu of Strathmore who will be making her international debut will guard Kenya’s backline.

Telkom’s custodian Cynthia Onyango is expected to start in goal ahead of Amira Sailors Rachel Kerubo.

In the men’s contest, Kenya will be seeking revenge against Ghana who locked them out of FIH World Two after subjecting them to a 1-0 defeat last year.

Police players Oliver Echenje and Amos Barkibir are expected to make their international debut in today’s first eleven.

Maxwel Fuchaka of Butali will captain the team while former national team skipper Richard Birir makes a return.

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