Gallant USIU slide into final
Posted Sunday, February 28 2010 at 20:17
Wonder girl Barbara Simiyu created an equaliser and scored a sudden death penalty flick as the United States International University-Africa stunned favourites Sliders 2-1 to storm into the national women’s hockey league final at Nairobi’s City Park Hockey Stadium.
USIU’s giant-killing instincts will be put to a stern test when they face champions Telkom Orange in the final on Sunday at the same venue.
Telkom Orange, who are the reigning Africa champions, had a smooth ride into the final, chalking an emphatic 6-0 victory over Vikings.
Sliders glided to a smooth start yesterday with a series of raids resulting in four penalty corners, one of which Elizabeth Obongo converted in the 29th minute to put them ahead 1-0 with a lucky flip.
That was to be the only moment of brilliance for the Sliders who paid dearly for underestimating USIU.
Besides Simiyu, USIU goalkeeper Christine Otieno and captain, defender Lorraine Nondi, were outstanding in their line of defence.
USIU were simply astute with stick and ball especially in the second half when they executed moves with precision, determination and confidence. Simiyu sliced through Sliders’ defence like a hot knife through butter to download a cracking pass to Nomaliso Omondi. With a quick reflex, Omondi gave it a suave turn, displacing her markers to effortlessly stroll with the ball into the net for an equaliser in the 38th minute.
The teams tied 1-1 at full time summoning the sudden death play in which USIU gave Sliders little room for antics. USIU claimed a short corner but upon taking it, Monica Muchiri was fouled for a straight penalty that Simiyu planted past Flavian Amuhaya for victory. Sliders were a pale shadow of the team that had beaten USIU during the normal league.
Nobody would have imagined Sliders losing to USIU considering their performance that saw the former reach the final of the Africa Cup Club Championships in December.
Simiyu said they had to oil their arsenal after the previous results against Sliders in the league.
“Our problem was in the defence but I am delighted that our captain Lorraine superbly marshalled the backline to keep our enemies at bay.
“It was a tough one though, especially after starting on the back foot. We were highly motivated by the half time pep-talk and had to come back fighting,” said Simiyu, who took up hockey while in Form Two at Lugulu Girls High School in 2003.
Simiyu, a third year International Relations student, said that their underdog tag worked out well for them.
USIU coach John Kabuu said they are ready to bring down another giant adding that pressure will be on Telkom to perform in the final.
During the league, USIU lost 2-0 to Telkom before forcing a draw.
“We underestimated USIU and were in fact talking about the final against Telkom,” said Sliders coach Nixon Nyangaga.
“We failed to prepare well and USIU vanquished us in all the facets of play.”
Telkom’s coach Jos Openda cautioned his charges not take USIU for granted.