Telkom Orange, the 19-time champions will begin the defence of their title against Chase Amira in the season opening match of the Kenya Hockey Union women’s Premier League at the City Park Stadium on Saturday.
This matchup will kick start the season in the women’s division that has 11 teams up from nine last season.
Chase Amira finished an impressive third in their debut season in 2016 and has recruited several players. Prudence Wasilwa and Sylvia Inziani join the side from Kenyatta University.
Vivian Achieng has moved from Vikings while Julie Koloni, a reserve player joins from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology.
Their biggest signing is arguably the prestigious free agent Pauline Naise who was formerly with Strathmore University. The multi-talented Naise who also plays for Kenya national football women’s team Harambee Starlets.
But, Telkom Orange coach Jos Openda is unfazed by the opposition’s drive to strengthen their team ahead of the tie.
“Yes they have recruited massively but every season teams do what they can to try and beat us so this is not different. We have kept the momentum going since winning the Club Championships and have not done anything new in training.
"We believe in our system and all our departments are strong enough to beat them. We would like to start the season on a high with a win and set the pace early,” the bold Openda said.
They have new recruits Beatrice Wekesa, a defender from United States International University-Africa and youngster Lavender Auma. They could feature at some point in the match according to the coach.
Openda will stick to his formidable regulars Lilian Aura and Barbara Simiyu in midfield while defensive trio of Terry Juma, Lucy Wangechi and Flavia Mutiva are expected to start.
There are no injury concerns so Openda has a full squad to choose from.
Chase Amira will depend on the services of goal-poacher Susan Okech to lead the attack after an impressive show last season.
Following the departure of defensive enforcer Lorraine Nondi to Sliders, Leah Omwandho and Sheila Ingumba have more responsibility to keep the fierce opposition at bay.
In the men’s league, last season’s third place finishers Kenya Police will tackle Kenya College of Accountancy.
The law enforcers finished second in the Africa Cup of Club Championship and coach Ken Kaunda fancies their chances against the students.
“We did not reach our target last season but have a chance to do so this time. We are not going to take them lightly. We are aiming for a win because a positive start is always a plus for the confidence of the team,” Kaunda explained.
The policemen boast of attacking quality of Kenyan international Calvins Kanu, Moses Cheplaiti, Oliver Echenje and Vincent Odindo. Also expected to start is captain Brian Saina who was rock solid in the middle during the continental showpiece in January.
James Kayeko is expected to start in goal with Martin Agesa to deputise. Kaunda insists that they want to score early, use their counter attacks and dictate possession.
KCA-U finished third in Pool B last season and narrowly missed progressing to the playoffs by virtue of goal difference. They have since lost Edwin Nyongesa and Lanox Onyango to Thika Rovers.
The team has brought in Collins Odongo from National League side Impala to boost their charges.
Saturday, Men: National League - Gorilla v Daystar University (12 noon); Premier League: TUK v Chase Sailors (4 p.m.), Green Sharks v Wazalendo (6 p.m.); Women: Telkom Orange v Chase Amira (2 p.m.).
Sunday Men: National League - Wazalendo Youth v UoN (9 a.m.); Premier League: USIU-A v Kenyatta University (1 p.m.), Kenya Police v KCA-U (3 p.m.); Women: JKUAT v Multimedia University (11 a.m.).