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Hockey team’s tall order

The national women’s team is out to prove a point against champions South Africa  during their opening Africa Hockey Federation Africa Cup of Nations match.

Coach Fidel Kimanzi is confident of good results when the tournament kicks off at the City Park Stadium in Nairobi.

The championship has  attracted four teams – Egypt, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana.

It will double up as the World Cup qualifier, the winners in the men and women’s competition will represent  Africa during the World Cup set for at the Hague, Netherlands next year.

The national women’s team faces a herculean task against favourites South Africa.

The last time the two teams clashed was in 2011 during the Africa Cup Olympic Games qualifying tournament in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe were South Africa thrashed Kenya 9-0 in the preliminaries and 5-0 in the final.

The defending champions are a tough nut to crack and Kenya will need to put their best foot forward to counter their formidable opponents.

However, coach Kimanzi is optimistic, saying his team has what is takes to upset the visitors and also push ahead and win the championship.

“We know what we are supposed to do, it is up to the team to go out and prove themselves. Kenya has what it takes to win,” said Kimanzi.

He made two changes to bolster the team by dropping Lucy Wangeci for Lorraine Nondi in the defence while goalkeeper Caroline Ngarachu will replace Ruth Njoki.

The team, captained by Telkom’s Betsy Omalla, beat premier league side Telekom Vikings 3 – 0 in a warm match.

Omalla recalled when Kenya lost to South Africa.

“That was a tough game but we have learnt our mistakes. South Africa are a strong team but we are playing at home and we know we can beat any team,”  Omalla told Nairobi News.

“We are better prepared and ready to fly our flag high,” she added.