Orange retain African hockey crown
By BRIAN YONGA
Telkom Orange on Sunday retained their Africa Hockey Club Championship title after edging out Ghana Police 3-2 on post-match penalties in a dramatic final played at the Olympic Youth Development Center Stadium, Lusaka, Zambia.
The game which had originally been set for Saturday afternoon had to be completed on Sunday morning after heavy rains disrupted the final with only half an hour played. The teams went straight into penalty strokes after a 1-1 stalemate after 70 minutes.
Audrey Omaido, Barbara Simiyu and Terry Juma successfully converted their flicks while veteran striker Jackline Mwangi failed to convert her flick but it didn’t matter as Orange went on to win the match.
The win sparked celebrations for Orange coach Jos Openda and his players in the Zambian capital as Orange lifted Africa’s elite hockey club crown a record eighth time, their fourth in a row to complete a successful year.
“It feels so wonderful to be African champions once again, it was a tough match between two great sides who wanted to win the title. Our team spirit and never-say die attitude won it for us in the end,” a delighted Openda told the Daily Nation Sport on phone from Lusaka.
“I think the rains worked in our favour because the girls came back sharper and were hungrier for the title. We will celebrate the win before we embark on it once again next year. We want to keep on going with this winning cycle”.
Tournament Director Samuel Fadele had informed the teams that a coin would be tossed to determine the winner had the rains continued.
The dramatic final continued with the five minutes remaining of the aborted first half with neither teams unable to find a break through. Openda maintained the same side that beat Ghana Revenue Authority in the semi-final with Josephine Ataro starting in goal ahead of Ruth Njoki.
The two teams had drawn 3-3 in their opening match of this year’s competition. Mwangi gave Orange the lead in the 53rd minute with her fifth goal of the tournament finishing off an Audrey Omaido penalty corner past Police keeper Abigail Boye.
Police were level three minutes later as winger Linda Sasu sounded the board through another penalty corner after Omaido fouled Sasu inside the Orange final circle.
Orange missed a host of chances to seal victory in regular time with Boye pulling a number of saves to deny Mwangi and Omaido. The pressure was too much for Openda who could not stand to watch the penalties but was delighted after Juma slotted home the winning penalty.
Orange will return home on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Eastern Company from Egypt were crowned the men’s winners after dethroning champions Sharika 3-2 in the final. GRA and Niger Flickers of Nigeria finished third in the women’s and men’s event respectively.