Champions Kenya Police and Butali Warriors launched their campaign for this year’s Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s Premier League title on a good footing when they dismissed their opponents at City Park at the weekend.
Police upheld their dominance over Nakuru wedging them out 2-1 on Saturday, before Butali cracked on their systems to pip Nairobi Simba 2-1 on Sunday in what perhaps was the match of the weekend.
Butali could have claimed an early league’s lead but their match against Greensharks on Saturday was washed out with the Warriors leading 2-0 at half time.
The remaining half will be played at the two teams' convenient date.
However, the start of the league was marred by boycotts from the umpires, who were demanding their allowances from last season, forcing KHU to use team officials and players to handle matches.
The score line between Butali and Simba was not a reflection of the match especially for Butali, who could have scored more goals in the first half where they led 1-0.
Brian Musasia put the 2015 champions Butali ahead in the 13th minute from a penalty corner before Emmanuel Simiyu made it two from a field goal just three minutes into second half.
Then Simba’s assault would pay dividends when Shabaan Ali was set loose on the left flank to unleash a back hand past newly signed Linus Sang in the Butali goal in the 50th minute.
Butali have acquired Sang, who is Kenya’s first choice keeper, from United States International United University-Africa (USIU-A).
Brian Saina drew first blood for Police in the fourth minute from a beautiful field goal, but Nakuru level four minutes later through David Pewa. Calvins Kanu would score for Police what ended up as the deciding match in the 14th minute.
“It’s always a derby when we meet Nairobi hence not a game that you can take easily,” said Butali coach Dennis Owoka. “They forced us to play on the left and they actually succeeded.”
Owoka said his team will bank on their depth this season, having signed Sang alongside striker George Mutira and sweeper Nickson Amadi from Chase Sailors.
“Mutira has good pace and is skilful with the ball, something we lacked in the past two seasons,” said Owoka.
Simba’s skipper Arif Rajput acknowledged defeat as he rued missed chances.
“It’s our first match and things will change as the season rolls out. We also missed several players,” said Rajput.
The 1998 champions Sliders crushed Vikings 5-0 with a second half double from Doris Kirui in women’s Premier League on Sunday.
Besides Kirui (35, 41), Sliders' other scorers were Nancy Kibogong (11), Christine Mboone (11) and Anita Agunda (59).