Teams eye champs Capital in Road to Anfield tourney
With just over two weeks left before the fifth edition of the Standard Chartered Trophy football tournament, the agony of a group stages exit remains fresh in the mind of Standard Media Group team captain Eric Ochieng.
Standard, who were on a mission to capture their second local qualifying tournament, crashed out of last year’s edition after losing 2-1 to eventual winners Capital FM in their pool’s crunch clash.
This year’s event will be held on February 25 at Nairobi’s St Mary’s Grounds with stiffer competition expected after organizers broke from the tradition of awarding local winners with direct qualification to the international round in Liverpool.
Instead, winners of the local qualifying tournament will first have to travel to neighbours Tanzania to take part in East Africa Regional final.
“Last year, we had three really good teams in our pool and that limited our chances of making it out of the group. We had five teams in the group with Capital FM being the extra team. They failed to identify their official pool so somehow they wandered into our own.
“Nonetheless, the football was good and Capital represented us well in the knockout stages and later in the international round,” Ochieng, a sports writer said.
His counterpart and sports editor, Alex Isaboke, reiterated his squad’s resolve is to defend their crown.
Capital’s 3-2 win over 2015 winners South Korea in last year’s finals saw them become the first African team to win the trophy.
In their remarkable journey to glory, the champions finished the tournament unbeaten and produced the Most Valuable Player in Jeffrey Ooko and Golden Boot winner, Solomon Okeyo who sunk in 10 goals.
“I don’t think we were lucky. We played against top teams including the likes of Coca Cola and proved we were the best after having not lost a single match throughout the tournament.
“As is the case with all defending champions, every team will be trying to prove themselves against us so I can only wish them the best,” Isaboke teased.
Royal Media Services (RMS), Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Radio Africa Group, Standard Media Group and Capital Fm will fight for a chance to play at the home of English Premier League side Liverpool FC against other cooperates.
The event dubbed the Road to Anfield 2017 is an international five-aside football tournament which is held in select countries across Africa, Europe and Asia as part of the partnership between the Standard Chartered Bank and Liverpool FC.
Participating markets for this edition include UK, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Korea, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Kenya.
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