Hockey team lands tough draw in UK
Kenya’s national women’s hockey team is optimistic that it will post good results in their debut at the Commonwealth Games that start today and end on August 8 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Kenya, who play in the quadrennial games for the first time, have been placed in the group of death (Pool ‘B’), alongside Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and seasoned rivals South Africa.
The Blades as they are commonly known were awarded a berth through the re-allocation of returned qualification slots from the teams placed higher in the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) World ranking teams who opted out of the Games.
Kenya placed on positoin 34 are drawn into tough Pool ‘B’ with teams which are ranked above them on FIH standings. They include; Australia who are on second place of federation’s ranking, New Zealand on sixth position, South Africa on 16th and Scotland on 22nd place.
The 10-team tournament also has England, India, Canada, Wales, and Ghana in Group ‘A’. The games will run from July 29 to August 8.
The Jacqueline Mwangi-coached side hope for a good start against New Zealand on July 29 before settling scores with Australia the following day.
Further matches against Scotland (August 1 ) and South Africa (August 2 ) respectively will provide a stern test to Kenya’s young team.
The team captained by Strathmore University forward Gilly Okumu left the country on Friday last week for Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The travelling squad comprise 18 players and five officials.
Okumu will have Lakers club forward Alice Owiti as her assistant. She takes over from Rhoda Kuira who failed to make the cut.
Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) vice chairperson Elina Shiveka said they have confidence in the squad under the tutelage of former Kenyan International Jacqueline Mwangi and assistant coach Michael Malungu.
“The players are optimistic ahead of the Games. We have had intense training for the last one month and we hope that our presence will be felt. It is also a good opportunity for players to showcase their talent and attract the interests of other countries,” said Shiveka.