Hockey: Butali, Scorpions crowned as Police book Africa Cup slot
What you need to know:
- Strathmore coach Meshack Senge said the long wait was finally over.
- “I can look back and say the structures we have put in place has worked and paid us back. I’m happy that we are the first University to have won the women’s title and 2016 in the men’s category. We hope to build on the momentum and perform well at the clubs championship but the feeling is humbling,” said Senge.
Goalkeeper Joshua Omondi’s heroics helped Kenya Police beat men's Premier League champions Butali Sugar Warriors 1-0 as the curtain came down on the 2022 Kenya Hockey Union League season at the City Park Hockey Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday.
Omondi saved a penalty shot in the last quarter that was taken by Butali captain Constant Wakhura that could have levelled the scores for his team.
Sammy Oungo had put Police in the lead in the 44th minute through penalty shot after speedy Titus Kimtai was fouled inside the box.
The hard-fought win saw Police inflict their opponents with their first loss of the season, but most importantly secure second spot and a place in the continental club bonanza.
Police and Butali booked automatic tickets to next month’s African Cup for Clubs Championship to be held at the Sikh Union Club from February 13-19 by virtue finishing in the first and second positions.
Police needed to win to finish second and qualify for the continental championship. Butali finished with 43 points from 18 matches, while Police have 40 points from the same number of matches.
In the earlier match played at the same venue, champions Strathmore University Scorpions finished the women's Premier League unbeaten with a deserved 2-0 win against Dutch Flower Group (DFG) Wolverines.
Maurine Ogoche and Rachel Khamala scored for Strathmore in the second and 36th minutes respectively. The students have ended the season with 34 points from 12 matches.
At a packed City Park Hockey Stadium with Strathmore University’s sponsor Lorna Edna Kiplagat and Butali Managing Director Sanjay Patel in attendance, Butali who had dominated the first quarter got four short corners which were unfruitful.
In second quarter, Police grew in the game and controlled the proceedings as their coach Patrick Mugambi moved dependable defender Richard Birir to the attacking department, but the tactic did not bear fruit as the first half ended in a barren draw.
On resumption, Police had great build ups and they could have gone one up in 37th minute, but Derrick Jabali failed to pounce on John Kaloti's begging cross.
In the 44th minute, Kimtai was brought down in the box and Umpire Moses Otieno pointed to the spot kick.
Police defender Sammy Oungo stepped up and sent Butali keeper Linus Sang the wrong side to put the law enforcers ahead.
Butali would have leveled the scores in 50th minute, but Wakhura’s flick went direct to the waiting hands of Omondi to the delight of Police fans.
In an interview, Butali team manager Kamal Sembi said that those were not the results they wanted on the final day of the season, but was quick to note that retaining the title was something.
“We wanted to defend the title but unbeaten but Police had other plans. We blame ourselves because we had many scoring chances but selfishness upfront was our main undoing.
But all in all I’m happy that we have retained the title. That said, with the Club Championship coming up in few days, I believe all the teams have a lot to do if we have to prove our worth in the event. It was evident both teams were struggling with fitness, but I believe we will get there if we remain true to the course,” said Sembi.
Strathmore coach Meshack Senge said the long wait was finally over.
“I can look back and say the structures we have put in place has worked and paid us back. I’m happy that we are the first University to have won the women’s title and 2016 in the men’s category. We hope to build on the momentum and perform well at the clubs championship but the feeling is humbling,” said Senge.