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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Telkom lead Kenyan charge at hockey Africa Cup of Clubs in Nigeria

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Four teams will represent Kenya at this year’s African Cup of Clubs Championship from Dec. 17-24 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Nine-time champions Telkom will be seeking their tenth title, and will be joined by Kenya hockey league runners-up United States International University-Africa (USIU) Spartans in the women’s competition, while the men’s teams will be the Kenya Police and Butali Sugar Warriors.

Telkom Head coach Jos Openda is under pressure to reclaim the title he lost to Ghana Revenue Authority in Accra last year while the men’s team will be returning to the competition after skipping last year’s finals.

Speaking in Nairobi on Friday, Openda said his team will not be complacent after having learned from the loss to the Ghanaian side.

“We are working harder to ensure we gain the edge and face our challenge head on. Telkom still are top and will dominate the Africa hockey scene for a long time,” said Openda.

Hosts Nigeria will parade top players and so will the Ghanaians, who were at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

But Openda believes they can match their strength and skills and will go the extra mile to reclaim the Africa Club title.

“The only concern I have with this team is in the finishing department. My strikers are yet to gel and it is the same thing that cost us last year. We failed to utilize our chances and were punished by one mistake, which our opponents capitalized on to win 1-0,” added the coach.

Over 16 teams will compete for the Africa club title. They include Kenya Police, Butali Sugar Warriors, Ghana Revenue Authority and Trustees from Ghana, former champions Eastern Company Hockey Club and El Sharkia from Egypt, Niger Flickers and Police Machine from Nigeria in the men’s competition.

In the women’s tourney, there are champions Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Police, Nigerian sides KADA Queens, Yobe Desert Queens as well as the two Kenyan teams Telkom and USIU Spartans.

Spartans team coach Willis Okeyo said he is upbeat ahead of their debut at the African Cup of Clubs Championship.

“There are a lot of expectations. Our aim is to expose the players and at the same time try to give a good account of ourselves,” said Okeyo.

The students will be making their maiden appearance at the annual event by virtue of finishing second to champions Telkom in last season’s Premier League.

           

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