Police storm hockey play-offs
Defending Champions Kenya Police stormed into the Men’s Hockey Premier League semi final play-offs in style by thrashing Western Jaguars 6-1 in a thrilling encounter at Kakamega High School on Saturday.
The policemen’s victory pushed their points tally to 13 after playing all the six matches of the regular season to join Butali Sugar Warriors (formally Kisumu Simba) who topped Pool A with 14 points.
The match that was played yesterday had been re-scheduled after the second round tie was rained off one month ago in Kakamega with the law enforcers leading 1-0 from Brian Saina’s goal.
In Saturday’s match, Kenya Police coach Kennedy Kaunda paraded a star studded field of national team players due to the sensitivity of the game as their closest challenger Greensharks were ahead of them on 11 points.
The law enforcers’ Felix Okoth, who plays for the national team, put the skilful squad ahead in the 18th minute after he was fed by Samuel Wokila in the danger zone before beating custodian Hope Kutwa.
Police dominated the first half with Saina rounding up Willis Malesi before scooping the ball beyond the Kutwa’s reach in the 22nd minute.
FORCED TO BACK-PEDDLE
Jaguars, under tactician Peter Okova, could have pulled one back when Kevin Lugalia’s defense splitting pass was taken over by Victor Chidi whose feeble shot was deflected back into play by national team goalkeeper James Kayieko in 30th minute.
After the breather, Police, who out played their opponents forcing them to back peddle, were on the mark again when Nelson Ochieng’s right wing cross was superbly converted by James Munyi past goal keeper Kutwa in the 54th minute.
The loser’s were lucky as efforts by Hesborn Kahinga paid dividends when he caught defenders Samuel Ougo, Ezra Gumbe, Victor Wekesa and Richard Birir off guard to slot home the solitary goal in the 55th minute.
The two-times-national champs were on the mark again when James Munyi sneaked from the right wing drew out the entire defense before slotting the ball in the far corner of the board for the fifth goal.
Jaguars found themselves in trouble in the dying minutes as the visitors dictated virtually all departments. Francis Esikuli hammered the final nail in Jaguars’ coffin.
The result means Greensharks, who led the table for better of the season, have missed out on a play-offs berth.
TITLE WINNING PERFORMANCE
Police coach Kenneth Kaunda was full of praise following his team’s emphatic win oozing confidence ahead of next month’s play-offs.
“That was title winning performance from the boys. They played according to instructions and have reaped their rewards with a place in the semis,” Kaunda told Nairobi News on phone.
His sentiments were echoed by the team captain Richard Birir who told those who had ruled out them to eat humble pie.
The win completes the play offs line up which are set to be played early next month with the league set to end on December 7.
Police who are runners up in Pool A will face 2012 champions Nairobi Simba who topped Pool B unbeaten with a perfect score of 18 points. The other semifinal will pit Warriors against Pool B runners up Wazalendo.
In the women’s matches, champions Orange who are in Zimbabwe for the Africa Cup of Club Championship will take on Sliders as USIU Spartans tackle last season’s runners up Strathmore Scorpions. The play-offs will be played in the first week of December at the City Park Stadium.