Orange out to defend African title

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TELKOM-ORANGE-HOCKEYNAIROBI, Kenya, January 8 – Telkom Orange women’s hockey team head coach Jos Openda, says his side is ready to defend the African club championships that will run on January 12 to 18 in Kampala, Uganda.

Orange who booked the slot after winning the Kenya Hockey Union League last season, will be joined by Strathmore University as they seek to battle it out against 25 other African teams. They travel to Kampala, Uganda on Wednesday.

“We started our preparations much earlier and I told my players that being number one is easy but retaining the spot is a big issue. By the time we reached October, the team was ready to play.

“We are very happy for the Nations Cup that was held in the country last year which was a major boost to our team because 10 of our players were in the Kenyan team, so I basically believe the ladies are ready to defend the title,” Openda stressed.

He added all the teams will be a threat to the league champions, and urged his charges not to underrate any of them since they qualified by merit.

“People are talking about dethroning us, Strathmore, Ghanians, Nigerians are looking for it, so I believe all the teams are going to be a threat but we are prepared since we are not going to let it go easily.

“We are working very had towards winning the tournament back to back, so I have not changed my squad, the ladies that won the trophy in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, are still ready to deliver and these are the people we are taking along with in Uganda,” he added.

Captain Betsy Omala, called on Kenyan supporters to travel along with the team, in the neighboring country to give them morale.

“We are set to go and I believe the hard work we have put at the pitch will pay us. I know Ghana fear us and it’s evident since we are the champions.

“I urge our fans to come in plenty because Uganda is not far, since they play a big role in a match. If they can come to support us even if its one or two games, we will appreciate,” the skipper urged.

The team that will depart on Thursday for Kampala, received a major boost on Wednesday from their title sponsors mobile provider Orange, to a tune of Sh4.4m (USD 50,470.33) that will cater for the continental showpiece.

They beat Custom Ladies of Ghana 4-2 in post-match penalties to grab the coveted title in last year’s finals in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

The country will also be represented by league champions Nairobi Simba and runners up Kenya Police in the men’s category.

The Kenyan men’s team will be targeting to win the crown for the first time in 16 years.

Winners will represent the continent at the 2015 World Club Championships at the Hague, Netherlands.

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