Ready for qualifiers

Thursday, September 28th, 2023 00:00 | By
Danstone Wabwire shields the ball from Ntumba Timothy of Uganda during the FIH AfHF test match at the Sikh Union grounds. The two sides shared spoils off a 1-1 draw. PD/ALEX NJUE

The Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) has whittled down the national men’s and women’s teams to 25 players each following trials that have been ongoing in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, and Kakamega for the past four months.

The teams are preparing for the Africa Olympic qualifiers dubbed African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 (men and women) slated for the University of Pretoria in South Africa from October 29 to November 5. Team Kenya will send both men’s and women’s teams to bid for a slot in next year’s Olympic Games, and they have been pooled in Group B in both categories.

The men’s team will face Egypt, Ghana, and Zambia while the women’s will confront Ghana, Namibia, and Zambia. According to the fixtures released by the Africa Hockey Federation (AHF), the women’s team will kick off their campaign against Zambia while the men’s team will face Egypt in the opener.

The two teams will remain on a non-residential training camp awaiting approval from the government to embark on a residential camp in preparation for the qualifiers and they will further be reduced to 18 players each ahead of the qualifiers.

In a recent interview, (KHU) Secretary General Wycliffe Ongori remained optimistic the teams will do well in South Africa. “We are anticipating a strong showing this time around and our aim is to secure a podium finish for both teams, with the women’s team setting their sights on at least a silver medal,” said Ongori.

Meanwhile, the women’s coach Meshack Senge is confident of a good outing in South Africa insisting their target is to go for the Olympic ticket.

“We have a good team and the players are yawning to step onto the pitch and represent Kenya well. We have set our target of securing the ticket for the Paris Olympics and I am confident the players will not let me down,” said Senge.

Leading the charge for the men’s team will be Fidhelis Kimanzi and Micheal Malungu, while Senge and Rose Mbulo will assume leadership roles for the women’s team.

According to a signed statement from KHU, Kenya will be well-represented among the officials for the African Road to Paris 2024, with four Kenyan officials featured on the list released by the Africa Hockey Federation.

The four officials include Yacub Shiraz, who will be the Umpires manager for men; Caren Koloni will be a technical official (women); and Umpires Peter Obalo (men) and Charity Miller Majimbo (women). The winners of the event will automatically book slots for next year’s Olympic Games.

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