Thursday August 31 2017

Weatherhead, Wananchi test KHC resolve in close title


KAMPALA. With two rounds of the men’s National Hockey League (NHL) played, Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) Stallions find themselves firmly engrossed in the title race for the first time in their nine year history.
Table toppers KHC (19 points in eight games) had a perfect first round where they won all four games but the second round saw them drop five points – in a 3-3 draw with second placed Weatherhead (17 points) and a 1-0 loss to Wananchi (16).
Weatherhead and Wananchi were unbeaten in the second round with the former managing two draws and two wins. Wananchi won three games after opening the round with a pulsating 4-4 draw with Weatherhead.
“It was down to complacency and a lot of individualistic play,” KHC coach Bernard Bwire, explained how they dropped points to open up the title race ahead of the final two rounds.
KHC always get mocked over their preference to win Cups, where games are shorter, over the league, with 16 grueling 70-minute games played in six months.
KHC started like a side that had found solutions for the longer version of the game but their thin squad has started to face stern tests.
They have had one or two substitutes in each of their last four games while Benjamin Mkapa, the club’s joint top scorer (five goals like Habib Sewava and Timothy Ntumba), missed one game due to a hip injury and two others representing Namilyango College at the FEASSSA Games in Gulu.
Midfielders Dulf Musoke and Sam Mwesigwa plus the injured defender Arthur Muwanga also missed the KHC’s first loss – of the season – to Wananchi.
KHC chairman Sewava’s decision to appoint Ntumba and Brian Okodi as his assistant coaches at Namilyango ahead of FEASSSA also haunted the club as the two hardly had any impact against Wananchi having braved a six hour’s journey from Gulu the night before.
Bwire, who was irked by the lack of creativity in his team and options on the bench, went ahead to indefinitely suspend the team’s man of the match award.
“It breaks me that we are losing focus but what will separate us from the rest is how fast we can bounce back from defeat,” Bwire added. They must at least wait till September 16 when they kick off their third round against Weatherhead.