Regular Butali Sugar Warrior’s goalkeeper Linus Sang is the surprise exclusion from the national men’s hockey team unveiled yesterday ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers set for next week at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
Sang was part of the 18-member provisional squad that has been in non-residential training at the City Park Stadium ahead of the week-long event. Sang’s exclusion comes as a surprise having been crowned the best goalkeeper at the 2016 African Cup of Nations.
He has also been the mainstay of the national side. The most sought after keeper has had stints at Strathmore University, GreenSharks and the United States International Africa University after making his debut in the national team in 2011.
Team coach Meshack Senge defended his decision to drop the regular player, saying the technical bench was guided by the statistics and players data.
“To drop a player is the most difficult decision for a coach. We had a session with those who were axed to explain the reasons and the areas they need to step up. Everybody in the 25-man squad is good enough to play for the national team but those small little details and advantage areas were some of the things we were considering,” noted Senge.
He added: “Sidelining some of the players was a very hard decision to make but we were guided by statistics and player data. I am happy anyone in the 25-man squad can fit-in for the assignment. We are rebuilding and our sole objective is to make it to Tokyo 2020 and we want to believe in that objective.”
On the other hand, Amira Sailors’ Pauline Naise was axed in the women’s line-up. The multi-talented player juggles between football and hockey and has since excelled in both disciplines. Butali’s Constance Wakhura will captain the men’s side with Willis Okeyo of Police serving as his assistant. Gilly Okumu and Tracy Karanja will lead the women side.
Squads: Men—Goal Keepers: SimonOdhiambo and Prince Omollo; Defenders-Robert Masibo, Constant Wakhura, Paul Omariba, John Rioba, Obare Otora and Clayson Luvanda;
Midfielders: Franklin Wahongo, Ivan Ludiali.Moses Ademba.Francis Kariuki and Willis Okeyo; Forwards: Festus Onyango, Douglas Nyerere, Danston Baraza, Arnold Marango and Amos Barkibir.
Women: Goalkeepers: Nouvelle Becca and Cynthia Onyango; Defenders: Beatrice Mbugua, Jane Muragu, Flavia Mutiva, Lucy Wangeci, Marion Akinyi and Leah Omwadho; Midfielders: Grace Makokha, Harriette Omindi, Ruth Adhiambo, Caroline Guchu, Tracy Karanja and Lillian Aura; Forwards: Rhoda Kuira, Gilly Okumu, Maureen Okumu and Eleanor Chebet