Winning the only option, Senge

By eric odanga
Nov 17, 2013
  • Coach Meshack Senge in a training session with the men's Hockey team.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Ghana women's team trains at the City Park stadium in Nairobi.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

With a hockey stick in hand, Meshack Senge was a no nonsense defender. A player forwards feared running in to because with one sweeping move, eyes on the ball, Senge would hook the ball away from the forward. For him, defending the goal area was business as usual.

At his peak, Senge and several other class players had the rug pulled from their feet when their all conquering Armed Forces team was disbanded! He has since turned his attention to coaching and has had success with Strathmore University.

Senge will not be on the backline when Kenya tackles Egypt in the Africa Nations Cup but will instead direct his charges from the bench. He still has the same intensity for coaching as he did when playing. You can see the intensity in the eyes of the soft-spoken giant who has had a stint in Italy.

On the eve of the tournament, Senge spoke exclusively to sportsnewsarena.com. He is confident in stating “we are ready for the tournament.” Kenya hope to use the home advantage to defy odds and beat some of the best teams in Africa.

“All matches are a must win for us. Winning is not an option. It is the only option and the boys know that,” Senge stated.

The mood in the camp is upbeat and the players are raring to go.The coaching bench of the Kenya team is full of experience with Inderjit ‘Coolie’ Matharu, a prolific goal scorer for Kenya and nairobi Simba Union assisting Senge.

Egypt are predators

Some of the key players the technical bench pin their hopes on are Italy-based Barnabas Odhiambo, Allan Iningu, Frank and Davis Wanangwe and Richard Birir. Senge admitted not knowing much about Egypt and how they prepared for the tournament and instead relies on past knowledge.

“They are very organized and their playing style has rarely changed from the time we played them but we are at home and must win,” the coach stated.

Typically, Egypt are predators who have a patient build up. They keep possession and look for openings before swiftly attacking in hordes after other players move into space. Every match against Egypt was always like a final. That has not changed and Senge adds: “They {Egypt} were always very dynamic and skilful. They had very good incentives.”

Commenting of the players who will do duty for Kenya, Senge observed: “We have an interesting crop of players who I believe can get us back to the top.” Kenya’s performance will however be complete is the 12th man - the fans - lend their vocal support.

Kenya team: Linus Sang, Wilson Otieno, Constant Wakahura, Richard Birir, Frank Wanangwe, Moses Cheplaiti, Barnabas Odhiambo, Brian Musasia, George Mutira, Kenneth Nyongesa, James Kayieko, Davis Wanangwe, Maxwell Wakhungu, Leon Magomere, Francis Esikuri, Willis Okeyo, Brian Saina, Allan Iningu.

Officials: Meshack Senge (coach), Inderjit Matharu (assistant coach), Godfrey Bila (team manager), Epantus Gitonga (physiotherapist).

Fixtures

Men

November 18: Egypt v Kenya (10 am), South Africa v Ghana (4 pm).

November 19: Egypt v South Africa (2 pm), Ghana v Kenya (4 pm).

November 21: Ghana v Egypt (2 pm), South Africa v Kenya (4 pm).

November 22: Play offs November 23:Final.

Women

South Africa v Kenya (12 pm), Ghana v Tanzania (2 pm).

November 19: Kenya v Tanzania (10 am), Ghana v South Africa (12 pm).

November 21: South Africa v Tanzania (10 am), Kenya v Ghana (12 pm).

November 22: Play offs.

November 23: Final.