Hockey defensive stalwart Winnie Alaro has decided to seek new challenges by ditching the green of Wananchi for the blue of Deliverance Church of Uganda (DCU).
The national team centre-back will today have an opportunity to show what the five time defending champions have lost and what the perennial also-rans have gained from the switch when the two ladies’ sides meet in the National Hockey League (NHL) in Lugogo.
In their June meeting, Wananchi won 3-0 and team manager Joshua Opolot believes nothing has changed for them even though Alaro, who was most valuable player and Uspa hockey player of the year in Wananchi ladies’ first triumphant year of 2015, will add not only to DCU’s defence but to their attacking short corners as well.
“If we felt there was a way the transfer would hurt the team chemistry or make us weaker, we would have stopped it,” Opolot said as their mainstay at the back for the last six seasons left.
“We are still strong and we should still win the league,” he added. Wananchi lead the ladies’ log with 12 points – five ahead of DCU in second place.
Wananchi’s men’s side was also set to lose national team goalkeeper Bosco Ochan but “he had a change of heart and we are happy that he is staying,” Opolot shared.
Weatherhead confront Rockets today ready to build on that 4-0 first round win and to stretch their lead over Wananchi, who are on 16 points in seven matches and do not play till tomorrow, to five points.
Meanwhile, Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) Stallions face Weatherhead Historicals, who have enjoyed good form - by their usual standards - for three weeks after posting three consecutive league draws and knocking Makerere University (Mak) Stingers out in the first round of the Uganda Cup.
Makerere will hope for a better turn of fortunes as they open the second round of fixtures against City Lions.
City Lions are just three points of Wananchi and Stallions but were by press time set to lose five players in the transfer window that concluded last night.
Utility player Maxwell Mugisha moved to Weatherhead, goalkeeper Richard Kaijuka to KHC, Isaac Oryem to Wananchi while Andrew Lubega was due to return to Wananchi after four years. Fortunately, Shafiq Muleme had moved back to the Lions from Wananchi ahead of last weekend’s Uganda Cup meeting between the sides.
With Innocent Mbabali and Emmanuel Baguma returning to Italy, Lubega will be a much needed ray of experience in the Wananchi midfield.
National Hockey League
M: Mak Stingers vs. City Lions 11.30am
M: Stallions vs. Historicals 1pm
M: Rockets vs. Weatherhead 2.30pm
W: Wananchi vs. DCU 4pm