On a day of excitement and under the watch of a packed stadium of fans and dignitaries, defending women’s champions Orange Club of Kenya and men’s champions Eastern Company Club of Egypt came out tops after 9 days of fantastic and competitive hockey.
Orange proved their dominance in the women’s competition in recent years making it 5 championships in a row with victory over old campaigners GRA (formerly known as CEPS) of Ghana. The match was fiercely contested but it was the Kenyans who had the extra edge tactically, technically and physically to claim the spoils with a 2-0 win. Orange made sure of a record 10 championships out of 20 since the inception of the women’s competition in 1996. GRA, who boast of a good number of the Ghana National Women’s hockey team, put up a spirited fight but that was not enough to overcome the strength, speed and agility of the Orange ladies. The Bronze medal match was won by Kada Queens of Nigeria who fought back from 2 goals down to beat compatriots and former champions Heartlands 4-2. Ghana Police Women placed 5th beating Sharkia 6-2, while Sliders of Kenya came in 7th after Sharkia of Egypt beating Wananchi of Uganda 3-0. Dar Ladies of Tanzania condemned Weatherhead of Uganda to the bottom of the placings beating them 1-0 to place 9th.
In the men’s competition, looked to have started a new dynasty taking over from compatriots Sharkia with the successful defence of their title. When many thought the Egyptian dominance of the 28 year old competition was about to be broken due to losses inflicted on both Sharkia and Eastern in the Group stages, Eastern picked themselves up to pull through to the semi-finals. Again, when the thronging fans and media pundits thought the much fancied homesters Butali Warriors were going to finally push the Egyptian opposite aside, Eastern held their own and dispatched the Warriors in a tense penalty shootout after 70 minutes of thrilling hockey which ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Eastern Company needed to overcome another Kenyan opposition to retain their title after Kenya Police saw off Ghana Police in the clash of the Policemen. The Kenyan Police made light work of their Ghanaian opponents brushing them aside with a 4-1 victory.
The stage was thus set for an exciting men’s final and in front of a packed and cheering stadium, the match lived up to its billing. After 70 minutes of a thrilling encounter which ended goalless, the shootout was to determine the champions. Eastern missed one attempt at goal and lead 3-2 at the 4th shoot out for both teams. Police however failed to convert their 5th and final shootout when Eastern goalie pulled of a save. Eastern celebrated to the disappointment of the packed stadium of hopeful Kenyan fans.
Butali Warriors put in a good effort to soothe the pain of the home fans by winning the bronze, beating debutants Ghana Police 3-0. Record championship winners Sharkia, finished the competition in a very unfamiliar distant 5th position beating Exchequers 3-2 in a tight contest. Niger Flickers of Nigeria came in 7th beating Weatherhead of Uganda 8-0 in the classification match. Wananchi of Uganda placed 9th and bottom of the classifications.
For many who have followed the ACCC over the years, they believe the level of hockey exhibited points to the beginning of a new era where the dominance of Sharkia ends and others take over. The thrills of the competition brought to the fore that although Eastern retained their crown, it was achieved against a very tight opposition which resulted in a one game loss during the Group stages.
Some individual awards were handed out to outstanding performers courtesy of sponsors Hockey Farm of Ghana and Kenya. In the women’s competition, Aya Mahmoud of Sharkia Ladies won the best goalie after she stood solid for a very improved Sharkia team. The top scorer was jointly won by Elizabeth Opoku of GRA Ghana and Wangechi Mwangi Jaqueline of Orange Kenya with 9 goals each.
In the men’s competition, Shehata Elrazek Farahat of Eastern won the best goalie while Emmanuel Ankomah of Exchequers of Ghana won the top scorer with 8 goals to his credit.