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Kenya Take on Nigeria in World Series Opener

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The national men’s hockey team tackle Nigeria in their opening match of the World League One Series Friday night at the Theodocia Okoe National Hockey Pitch in Accra, Ghana.

The match, which kicks off at 8.30pm Kenyan time, will be preceded by a women’s tie between the hosts and their Nigerian counterparts.

Kenya will also take on Namibia and the hosts while the women’s team will take on the same teams except Namibia with the top two teams in both categories advancing to the second round of the competition set for February 2017.

The teams are out to qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

The men’s team of 18 players together with head coach Meshack Senge and team manager Godfrey Bila jetted out of the country on Thursday morning.

The women’s team, which will also take part in the competition, is set to leave Friday morning and is scheduled to play Nigeria on Saturday in their opener.

Kenya start as favourites against the Western Africans courtesy of their higher ranking and previous meeting records between the two sides.

Kenya, ranked 38th globally and third in Africa, beat Nigeria 3-1 in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations-cum-Olympic qualifier held at the Randburg Stadium in Johannesburg last year.

We have to forget about our last win against them and approach the match differently. It is a round robin competition and we cannot afford to drop any points,” Senge told Daily Nation Sport.

Skipper George Mutira, who is one of the six players in the current squad that played against Nigeria, is expected to lead Kenya’s attack alongside Strathmore Gladiators striker Festus Onyango – who has impressed for the university side in the league this season.

“We know the Nigerians play a physical game and we therefore need to match them in all departments and ensure we are alert at all times. We have game good players in the squad and I’m confident we can win all our matches,” Mutira said.

Nigerian Coach Tunde Odedokun is looking to avenge last year’s loss.

The last game of the day will see Kenya’s rivals Ghana take on Namibia.

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