Defending men’s champions Strathmore University face Butali Sugar Warriors in a repeat of last season’s final as they headline a bumper Kenya Hockey Union league matches over the Easter holiday weekend at the City Park Stadium.
They clash on Sunday as KHU implements its full restructure of the league in a bid to attract more fans.
Previously, the union has been ploughed by slow running of the league resulting at times in late conclusion.
However, after consultative meetings in early April between KHU and team managers, changes have also been made due to influx of teams participating this season.
Among the top changes include the time format where since last weekend, matches have been played in four quarters of 15 minutes each. The previous format was played in two halves of 35 minutes.
Notably, matches will run as early as 10 a.m on Saturdays until 8 p.m. and from 8 a.m to 8 p.m on Sundays. Fridays have also been incorporated as match days to ensure that more matches are played.
Butali Sugar Warriors will return to action after three weeks on the backdrop of putting Western Jaguars through the sword after their 8-0 in their only match played this season.
The 2015 champions have received a major boost with the return of two key players. Striker Frank Wanangwe and Barnabas Odhiambo have recovered from knee injuries.
“Frank and Barnabas will be available for selection. We have been working on set pieces especially short corners which we identified as a weak area. Also we have put emphasis on defensive plays especially from midfield which I believe is our strength,” Butali Sugar coach Godfrey Wakachunga said.
Strathmore University have struggled to maintain their high standards in their last two games where they drew 1-1 against minnows Western Jaguars before being held to a goalless draw by Parklands Sports Club.
The students upset the formbook last season by dethroning Butali Sugar by winning 3-0 on penalty strokes.
In the women’s Premier League, defending champions Telkom Orange tackle last season’s runners up Strathmore University.
Interestingly, in Telkom Orange’s dominant title run last season, it was only the students who avoided defeat by snatching a 2-2 draw.
Locked at the top
Both sides are locked at the top with six points from two wins with Telkom Orange enjoying a better goal difference.
Telkom Orange’s long serving coach Jos Openda, who has actively returned to side after a short absence, sees this as task that his team can handle.
“They (Strathmore) are a good side and will bring their best game like most teams do when they face us. We are well prepared to play some good hockey and win. Our goal is to win the title without conceding a goal and we are well within our target,” he told SNA on Friday.
Openda identified their solid defence and goalkeeping departments as key for the match. He added that their strategy will be to close down the students especially in the midfield.