Kenya eyes bronze after missing the ultimate prize

Sliders players Wright-Alexis Kimberly (L) and Anita Agunda celebrates scoring against Weatherhead of Uganda during ...
Sliders players Wright-Alexis Kimberly (L) and Anita Agunda celebrates scoring against Weatherhead of Uganda during the 2016 edition of the Africa Cup of Club Hockey Championships at the City Park Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on January 07, 2017. Sliders won 6-3. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

After losing two consecutive matches in the ongoing African Cup of Nations finals in Ismailia, Egypt, the national women hockey team is now fighting for the bronze in the competition which also acts as World Cup qualifier.

The Wilson Otieno coached team has now lost two matches in their opening two encounters, losing to defending champions South Africa 5-0 before relinquishing an early lead to fall 2-1 to Ghana in their second match .

The two losses mathematically ruled Kenya out of contention for a World Cup berth and with two matches remaining for the Kenyan ladies; Otieno is now targeting to finish third in the championship, to earn Kenya a consolation by claiming a bronze medal. The winner of the competition is determined on round robin

“Unfortunately we are now out of contention for World Cup but we still have other matches to play against Nigeria and Egypt, and the best we can get is position three so we will try to win all the remaining matches so that we can attain this goal,” Otieno said.

At the same time Otieno has bemoaned the shoddy preparations the team had before heading for the championship, claiming that they did not invest more in the exposure matches prior to the competition.

“Against the Ghanaians we started so well and scored the first goal in the first quarter and held on until the last quarter when the West Africans scored two goals from penalty corners and clearly, they looked so fresh as compared to us since they have been here for a week and also that was their first match.

“Generally what came out clearly is the level of preparations and the  importance of exposure and build up matches, it has been one year down the line since we played any international match unlike our opponents Ghana and South Africa ,”  Otieno charged.

The women team will now face Nigeria on Wednesday before taking on hosts Egypt on their final match on Saturday.

Similarly, the men national team has so far registered dismal performance, losing their opening two matches where they fell 3-0 to Ghana on Sunday, before losing 4-1 to hosts Egypt on Monday.

The Meshack Senge-led team having been eliminated from the World Cup qualification contention will now have to compete for the bronze medal as well, with matches against Nigeria on Wednesday and defending champions South Africa on Saturday, which is also their final match.

Reports by Gilbert Kiprotich and Erastus Muturi

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