Niger Flickers seek Kenyan magic ahead of Club Championship


A hockey stick and ball. (PHOTO/Courtesy)
A hockey stick and ball. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

In Summary

  • Nigerian hockey giants Niger Flickers have pitched camp in Kenya as they intensify their preparation for the hockey Africa Cup for Club Championship (ACCC) slated for December 15-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • The 18-man squad will be in Nairobi for 12 days, and will use the City Park facility before flying back to Nigeria, two days before the tournament.
  • The Championships will be held at the Abuja National Stadium.

Nigerian hockey giants Niger Flickers have pitched camp in Kenya as they intensify their preparation for the hockey Africa Cup for Club Championship (ACCC) slated for December 15-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The 18-man squad will be in Nairobi for 12 days, and will use the City Park facility before flying back to Nigeria, two days before the tournament.

The three-time Nigeria national hockey league champions will face off with Kenyan clubs in warm-up matches notably with Butali Sugar Warriors who were also primed to also participate in the tournament but eventually pulled out.

In an exclusive interview with Citizen Digital, Flickers head coach Mohammed Isah said they chose Kenya due to the high level of competition in the Kenyan league.

“We have been here before and Kenyan teams are very good and that’s why we felt they could help us sharpen our skills by facing the likes of Sugar (Butali Sugar Warriors) and Police before we commence the championships,” said Isah.

The Flickers finished third in the continental championships in 2015 before falling further to fifth in the 2017 Championships held in Accra, Ghana.  Isah has however promised his side will not sit back but challenge for the title.

“In the last championships held in Ghana we lost our key players to injury which greatly hampered our plans. This time round we are ready to clinch the title especially before our fans and the government which has sponsored us in this journey,” Isah said.

Since the inception of men’s tournament in 1988, Egyptian clubs have dominated the championships with the defunct Armed Forces of Kenya being the only club out of Egypt to ever win the tournament in 1998.

Serial winners and defending champions El Sharkia from Egypt is the most successful club in the competition having won it for a record 23 times including the last edition held in Ghana.

Isah said it is time the Egyptian reign came to an end claiming his side will do everything to wrestle the title from the champions.

“We the coaches should be concerned about that (Egyptian dominance), we have to wake up because it is not good for one country to dominate but this year we want to stop that,” charged Isah.

The Flickers qualified for the annual competition after emerging runners up in their league, when Kada Stars ended their three-year consecutive reign of the national league title  – from 2015-2017.

Other men’s teams that will compete with the Nigerian duo include the defending champions El Sharkia and former champions Eastern Company Club, both of Egypt.

Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Exchequer will represent Ghana in the championships.

Interestingly, no Kenyan men’s team will grace the week-long competition with the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Premier League champions Kenya Police and Butali both opting out of the tournament.

In the women category, host nation will be represented by Nigeria Super League champions Kada Queens as well as runners up Delta Queens.

The two clubs will however come up against defending champions in the tournament GRA women of Ghana as well as 2016 champions Telkom of Kenya.

Ghana Police Ladies and Kenya’s United States International University-Africa (USIU-A), completes the entry of the teams.

The Championships will be held at the Abuja National Stadium.

 

 

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