After five years of been overlooked, Kenya Police midfielder Oliver Echenje has finally made it to the national men’s hockey team.
The police skipper was one of the seven new players that were on Sunday named in the final list of 18 players that will take part in the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Ismailia, Egypt from October 22 to 29.
A women’s squad of 18 players was also named.
The men and women’s teams will take part in the biennial continental showpiece that will also be qualifiers for next year’s World Cup.
The winning men’s and women’s teams will qualify for the World Cup,
Echenje expressed his delight at finally making the team vowing to return the faith the selectors have shown in him.
“It is a good feeling to finally be able to make the national team. I never lost hope in finally making the team and I will do my best to help the team win,” Echenje told Nation Sport.
He is one the six players drawn from Police, who currently lead the men’s Premier League table with 49 points, to make the national team.
Forward Amos Barkibir, whose 13 goals this season have seen him help Police open a 16 point lead at the top, is also in line to make his debut for the national team.
Barkibir was preferred ahead of teammates Samuel Wokila and Calvins Kanu, who were in the provisional list of 27 players.
Barkibir joins regular George Mutira and Festus Onyango of Strathmore Gladiators.
Other newcomers in the men’s team that will be coached by Meshack Senge, include Parkroad Badgers keeper Allan Agesa, Robert Masibo (Kenya Police), Kennedy Munialo (Wazalendo, Danstone Wabwire (Multimedia) and Vincent Odhiambo (Butali Sugar Warriors).
Butali fullback Maxwell Fuchaka will captain the side with Willis Okeyo of Police assisting him. Moses Ademba of Multimedia is on standby. Strathmore Scorpions defender Jane Muragu is the only new player in the women’s team.
The no-nonsense defender is eager to make her debut on the international scene.
“A lot of players could have made it but I am proud of the selection. I aim to help the team qualify for the World Cup,” Muragu said.
Former skipper Betsy Ommala, who has since relocated to the UK, missed out due to work commitments.
Telkom’s Lillian Aura takes the captain armband from Tracy Karanja with forward Gilly Okumu named vice captain.
Footballer cum hockey player Pauline Naise also made a comeback to the team.
Seven teams will take part in the week-long tourney. The government has given Sh7.5 million towards the trip but the Kenya Hockey Union revealed it has a deficit of Sh6 million.
Goalkeepers: Onyango Cynthia (Telkom), Kerubo Rachel (Amira)
Defenders: Rachel Ousa (Telkom), Mutiva Flavia (Telkom), Muragu Jane (Strathmore), Ngombo Elizabeth (Strathmore), Teresa Juma (Telkom)
Midfielders: Aura Lilian (Telkom, captain, Vodoti Sandra (USIU-A), Karanja Tracy (Telkom) , Guchu Caroline (Telkom), Rachel Wangui (USIU-A), Karanja Yvonne (Strathmore)
Forwards: Pauline Naise (Amira), Okumu Maureen (Telkom), Omaido Audrey(Telkom), Rhoda Nyambura (USIU-A), Gilly Okumu (Strathmore, vice captain)
Goalkeepers: Linus Kipkemboi (USIU-A), Allan Agesa (Park Road)
Defenders: Wakhura Constant (Butali), Oungo Samuel Paul (K. Police), Birir Richard (K. Police)
Maxwell Mutahi (Butali)- Captain, Munialo Kennedy ( Wazalendo), Masibo Robert Papa ( K. Police)
Midfielders: Okeyo Willis (K. Police)- Vice Captain, Iningu Allan (Sikh Union), Kariuki Francis (Strathmore), Francis Esikuri (Sikh Union), Echenje Oliver Obala (K. Police), Vincent Odhiambo (Butali)
Forwards: Mutira George (Chase Sailors), Onyango Festus (Strathmore), Wabwire Danstone(MMU), Amos Barkibir (K. Police); Moses Ademba (Multimedia, standby)