The national men’s hockey team Wednesday stormed the semi-finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations-cum-2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifiers after thrashing Tanzania 7-0 at the Randburg Stadium, Johannesburg.
Brian Saina and Leon Magomere scored two goals each with skipper Zack Aura, George Mutira and Constant Wakhura also getting their names on the scoresheet in a Pool ‘B’ encounter that Kenya dominated.
The victory saw Kenya finish second in the pool with six points as unbeaten Egypt topped with nine points. The North Africans beat Kenya 4-1 on Monday.
On Saturday, Kenya face champions and hosts South Africa in the first semi-final as Egypt meet Ghana in the other last-four clash with the winners facing off on Sunday, the penultimate day of the championship.
Mutira opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a well-taken field goal past Tanzania keeper Hassan Wawila before Greensharks Magomere netted from a rebound at the stroke of halftime to give Kenya a 2-0 lead going into the break.
Tanzania resorted to tenacious defending but Kenya’s pressure paid off with five more goals in the second half.
Elsewhere, the ambitions of Kenya’s women team to clinch their maiden Olumpic ticket will be tested this evening when they take on champions South Africa in their fourth match.
Kenya has picked up three wins out of three games so far in the continental event but face a Herculean task against the hosts, who have also won thrice as the race for sole ticket to next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games gains momentum.
Kenya will be looking to end their poor record against the South Africans as they seek their first win in 22 years.
Having beaten South Africa 3-1 in the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations, a repeat of that will see them inch closer to securing an Olympic berth. South Africa won 3-1 in their last meeting on their way to lifting the the 2013 title.
Midfielder Caroline Guchu, who was in the team, is optimistic of a Kenya beating the hosts.
“South Africa are a good side, they are playing well and are at home; so, the pressure will be on them,” she said. “But we have to match them in every department and fight for every ball.”
South Africa striker Lillian du Plessis is the women’s top scorer so far with eight goals from three games.