alexa After quiet 2018, focus now on fight for Olympic tickets - Daily Nation

After quiet 2018, focus now on fight for Olympic tickets

Wednesday January 2 2019

Telkom coach Jos Openda (left) and captain Tracy Karanja lead Kenyan hockey queens in celebrations after they were presented with the trophy for winning the women’s 2017-18 Premier League on February 18, 2018 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Telkom coach Jos Openda (left) and captain Tracy Karanja lead Kenyan hockey queens in celebrations after they were presented with the trophy for winning the women’s 2017-18 Premier League on February 18, 2018 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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As hockey takes stock of the 2018 season that had no major internationals for the national teams, 2019 promises to be busy for both the men and women’s sides with the qualifying tournament for next year's Tokyo Olympics scheduled for August in South Africa.

The competition will run from August 12 to 18, after which the African Games, slated for October 14-21 in Morocco, take over.

But hockey will not be part of the continental games as the northern Africa hosts don't have hockey facilities.

That means that the continental championships in South Africa will double up as qualifiers for Tokyo Olympics.

As usual, the men and women’s hockey Premier Leagues will be in focus locally where Butali Sugar Warriors and Telkom Kenya will be defending their titles in the action planned to start at the end of March.

The Africa Club Championships will also be held in December at a venue set to be announced, where Butali Sugar Warriors and Kenya Police will represent Kenya in men while Telkom Kenya and Strathmore University will carry the country's flag in women’s event.

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It’s envisaged that Butali Sugar and Police will honour the continental assignment this time around, having missed the last two editions in Accra and Abuja.

Last year, the focus was mainly on club action both locally and the Africa Club Championships.

Telkom Kenya claimed their unprecedented 21st hockey Premier League title with Butali Sugar Warriors recapturing the men’s title.

Telkom Kenya would then crown the season by recapturing the Africa Club Championships women’s crown after claiming revenge against Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) during the championship that ended on December 22 in Abuja.

As United States International University (USIU) settled for fourth at the continental event, Kenya was not represented in the men’s championship with Kenya Police and Butali Sugar choosing to stay away.

It was sweet and swift revenge for Telkom against the Ghanaians, who had beaten them 1-0 to lift the 2017 title in Accra.

The ever-green Jacky Mwangi and Audrey Omaido's second and third quarter goals, respectively, were what Telkom needed to claim revenge and become the most decorated women’s club on the continent with the 10th continental cup success.

Telkom Kenya sealed their place in the final via a 1-0 win over hosts Kada Queens.

USIU, who were making their maiden continental appearance, settled for fourth after they lost to Ghana Police 2-0 in the play-off for bronze medal.

Telkom won the diadem for the first time in 1998 then followed it up with victories in 2000 and 2001 then in 2009.

They won back-to-back from 2012 to 2017, lost to GRA in 2017 before reclaiming it this year.

Before heading to Ghana, Telkom Kenya had beaten arch-rivals Strathmore University 1-0 in the top of the league duel for the league success and uphold their unbeaten run locally to six years now.

Telkom, who are yet to lose the national title since reclaiming the crown from Sliders in 1999, only conceded three goals in their clean run in 12 matches of 36 points.

The only time Telkom conceded goals was when they beat Sliders 7-2 and Chase Amira 5-1.

Strathmore finished second with 28 points from nine wins, two losses and a draw.

They only lost to Telkom Kenya 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.

Unassailable lead

The men’s Premier League and Super League were full of drama what with the title chase, promotion and relegation battles going down to the wire.

Poor officiating and protests also marred the men’s Premier League during the season that saw a new format put in place.

By the end of the first leg, Butali Sugar and defending champions Kenya police had taken an unassailable lead from the chasing pack.

Butali and Police tied with 27 points each at the top of the league from 10 matches each with Wazalendo a distant third with 19 points from 12 matches.

The second leg was all set with Butali and Police toe-to-toe.Police requested to be exempted from the start of the second leg owing to a cash crunch.

The move saw Butali strengthen their league lead to 42 points from 15 matches while Police had 30 from 11 matches.

Butali and Police had lost one match each. Butali had crashed 3-0 to Police in the first leg with the men in blue going down to Greensharks 3-2 at the start of the second leg campaign.

As Butali lost to Parkroad Badgers 2-1 in a match that was poorly officiated, Police were zeroing in on the leaders. With four matches to go Butali were on 48 points while Police had 45 points with six matches to go.

Then on November 4, poor officiating and protest marred the Kenya Police and Wazalendo match. Wazalendo protested at how one of the umpires was handling the match as they allowed Police to score at will to eventually win 16-2.

KHU would launch investigations into the controversial match as the Union’s President Nahashon Randiek convened a meeting for umpires and technical officials on November 17 to discuss poor officiating and protest.

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