National women’s hockey team will on Wednesday seek to wrap up their impressive preliminary group stage show by seeing off Namibia in their final Group B match ahead of the semifinals of the ongoing African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 qualifiers in South Africa.
The women’s side booked a spot in the last four of the competition after seeing off Ghana 3-2 in a five-goal thriller on Monday.
They joined hosts and defending champions South Africa as the only two teams that have qualified for the semifinals.
Ahead of today’s 1pm Kenyan time clash, Kenya lead Group A with six points after two wins. On Sunday, the ladies began the competition with an emphatic 4-0 win over Zambia.
Blazers Hockey Club duo of Maureen Okumu and Flavian Mutiva are Kenya’s joint top scores with two goals each.
They are one goal behind current golden stick award front runners Berko Mavis of Ghana and South African trio of Bobbs Quanita, Lombard Tarryn and Mokoena Ntsopa, each with three goals.
Speaking after Kenya’s 3-2 win over Ghana, Okumu said she is glad to have made Kenya proud, and promised to complete the work in style.
“I am very happy to be part of the team and to score the winner was just the icing on the cake. I am proud of the team, the way we are playing and all. We are now we are looking forward to finish strong,” said alumni of five-time East Africa secondary school girls hockey champions Sinyolo Girls.
If Kenya finishes top of the group, they will meet either Nigeria or Zimbabwe from Group A. South Africa top the pool, which had only three teams. The winner of the match pitting Nigeria and Zimbabwe will storm the semis.
Meanwhile, the national men’s hockey team must defeat Ghana, if they are to qualify for the last four.
Kenya are currently third in Group B with three points, same as the West Africans who are second on goal difference.
Egypt are through the semis after topping the group with six points
After picking their first win at the qualifiers in South Africa by narrowly defeating Zambia 1-0 on Monday, Kenya must play even better against Ghana.
Winners at the tournament will seal their berths to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
The team that finishes second in the men’s competition will get a second opportunity to qualify for the Olympics, at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024.
A total of 12 teams, (men and women), will compete in hockey at the Olympic Games. Hosts France have gained direct qualification.
Australia (men and women) were winners of the Oceania Cup, which sealed their qualification, while Netherlands (men and women) qualified as the European champions.
India's men and China's women clinched their spots at the Olympics through their gold medal victories at the Asian Games.
Apart from the winners of the African Hockey Road to Paris 2024, winners of the continental championships in Pan America will also gain direct qualification to the upcoming Olympic Games.
The FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, which will be held in January 2024, provides a second opportunity for teams to qualify for the remaining six spots at the Olympic Games.