Kenya cancels Ghana tour in hockey
Xinhua | 2013-7-22 9:11:13
By Agencies
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Kenya has cancelled a planned tour of Ghana to play in build-up matches in hockey ahead of the Africa Nations Cup tournament, which will be staged in Nairobi from September 26 to October 6.

Risham Bains, Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Chairman confirmed Sunday that the teams - men and women - which were due to depart this week to Accra, will have to stay and use local facilities to train.

He said the teams will also have to schedule local friendly matches to gauge their preparedness ahead of the championships.

"The trip is off. The government has not released the funds and we have no choice but to pull out," said Bains.

The tournament, which is organized by the Ghana Hockey Federation, is being held to commemorate the first anniversary of Ghana's late president John Atta Mills, a former hockey player himself, who was in forefront to support the sport development in his country and Africa at large.

The national teams planned trip to Accra Ghana was aborted as the government, which had earlier promised to sponsor the trip pulled out.

The men's team comprises of players who have been in the team since 2011 was keen to build up a strong side capable of stunning the continent's giants during the Africa Nations Cup in Nairobi.

Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Uganda are some of the top teams that will be competing in the tournament.

"We have talent but we lack international exposure and the invitation from Ghana was meant to give our teams seriously challenge, which is important in our preparations for the main competition. Kenyan teams need to get that extra mile and qualification to the World Cup," said Kenya men team captain Davis Wanangwe.

Lack of international exposure has been Kenya's main undoing and with no funds, the country will continue to remain in the shadows of South Africa and Ghana, who have dominated the sport.

"What we need is quality training. We are playing at home and the foreign teams are doing their best to beat us. We need the support we can have," said Pauline Naise, the team's top striker.

South Africa have been dominating the men's African Cup of Nations for a long while now. They have won this event for the six consecutive times since cornering glory in the 1993 edition in Nairobi. Egypt have won it twice while Ghana won it once. The men edition will be marking its 10th edition.

In the women's edition, now marking its seventh, South Africa have hold the sway, winning the championship for six consecutive times with Zimbabwe winning it once.

But Kenya also stands a big chance to win, especially now that they are hosting the tournament.

The inaugural men's African Cup of Nations was held in Cairo, Egypt, where Ghana won the crown. The inaugural women's African Cup of Nations was held in Harare, Zimbabwe with the host claiming the title.

Bulawayo in Zimbabwe hosted the last tournament in 2011 with South Africa edging out Egypt 1-0 to claim the title in men's category. The women's title went to South Africa, who thumped Kenya 5-0.

Africa will use the event to select its teams to the 2014 hockey World Cup, which is slated for The Hague, Netherlands.

Kenya Team

Men - James Kayieko, Linus Sang (goalkeepers), Richard Birir, Brian Saina, Samuel Ounga, Wilson Otieno, Constant Wakhura, Kenneth Nyongesa (defenders), Willis Okeyo, Oliver Echenje, Felix Okoth, Samuel Wokila, Allan Iningu, Brian Musasia, Leon Magomere (midfielders), Davis Wanangwe, George Mutira, Moses Cheplaiti, Francis Esikuri, Zack Aura (forwards).

Women - Josephine Ataro, Ruth Njoki, Caroline Ngarachu (goalkeepers), Betsy Ommala, Flavian Mutiva, Terry Juma, Lucy Wangeci, Benazir Omotto, Rachael Ousa, Lorraine Nondi (defenders), Caroline Guchu, Jane Ofula, Audrey Omaido and Glenis Namasake, Lilian Aura, Laura Gichau, Anne Wabusya (midfielders), Jackie Mwangi, Tracy Nungari, Barbara Simiyu, Anita Agunda, Nancy Jepchumba, Pauline Naise (forwards).

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