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Kenyan ladies stay on course in Rio 2016 qualifiers

Kenya women’s hockey team on Saturday beat Zimbabwe 2-0 to record their second win at the 2015 Africa Nations Cup cum Olympic qualifier played at the Randburg Stadium, Johannesburg.

First half goals from Telkom Orange duo Terry Juma and Audrey Omaido secured victory for Kenya that saw the team going top of the women’s standings with six points.

Veteran defender Juma fired Kenya ahead after only five minutes finishing off Lilian Aura’s penalty corner. The second goal came at the quarter hour mark when Omaido sounded the boards for her second goal of the championship.

A shell-shocked Zimbabwe were unable to master a comeback as Kenya held on for the win. The Kenyan team launched it’s campaign in the championship with a 2-0 win over Namibia at the same venue on Friday.

Omaido told FIH (International Hokcey Federation) website that the team is focused on securing a first continental title and a maiden Olympic spot.

“We started well and the two goals gave us an edge and they totally lost focus. We want to keep winning and everyone is playing to their best,” Omaido said.

BRILLIANT START

Coach Jos Openda maintained the same starting squad that beat Namibia and was rewarded by a brilliant start.

Kenya’s next game is against Tanzania on Monday while Zimbabwe face Ghana on the same day.

Kenya’s men’s team will begin their campaign on Sunday when they take on Nigeria in a Pool B encounter. Egypt, who finished second in 2013 behind South Africa, will be up against Tanzania in another Pool B match.

It will be the first meeting between the two sides with Kenya ranked 39th in the world looking for a good start against the unranked West African nation.

Kenya won bronze during the 2013 edition and will be looking for an improved performance this time as they seek to qualify for their first Olympics since 1988.

Kenyan coach Meshack Senge has challenged the team to pick all three points so as to enhance their chances of making it to the last four.

FINAL OPPORTUNITY

“This is our final opportunity to qualify for the Olympics and we are here to give our best. The squad is ready and we are looking forward to the match,” Senge told Sunday Nation Sport.

At the same time, Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) is on the spot after photos showing the team living in deplorable conditions went viral on social media.

Sunday Nation Sport has reliable learnt that KHU opted not to stay at the official tournament hotel and made their own arrangements to stay at Bealiue Hockey Club in Kyalami due to financial constraints.

It is however unclear whether the officials are staying at the same hotel with the players.

The government which is charged with financing the trip only provided air-tickets and it is unclear how the union is footing costs for accommodation and meals.

Efforts to reach the union officials were futile as their phones went unanswered. A total of 12 officials travelled with the two teams comprising of 36 players, 18 men and 18 women.