Kenya gets thrashed from all sides in international tourney

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Chile whipped Kenya 5-0 in a one-sided World Women’s Olympic hockey qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan, Tuesday.

Javiera Villagra’s brace, two penalty corners from Fernanda Rodriguez and Maria Jose Fernandez and Paula Infante’s penalty stroke extended Kenya’s woes to three losses.

The Kenyans, who are placed 22 in the world and two places above Chile, conceded their first goal with eight minutes into play from Villagra’s goal and held on, for a 0-1 score line at the midway break.

Hell however broke loose after the breather with Rodriguez, getting on target in the 56th, Fernandez in the 62nd and Infante’s 69th minute goals handing Chile 5-0 victory and causing the first upset of the tournament.

Kenyans, who arrived 20 minutes late for the match after their bus broke down, only managed to threaten the South Americans in the 14th, 34th and 35th minutes, which bore no fruits.

Tuesday’s was the third straight loss for Kenya, who suffered 0-6 against Ukraine and 0-13 to Azerbaijan, and are yet to get a goal.

Kenyan officials at the tournament are partly blaming the poor show on the recent post-election violence in the country.

Kenya had pulled out of the event earlier in the year, citing the national team’s inability to prepare adequately for the qualifiers due, to the violence that rocked the country.

Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) secretary-general, also cited ‘ageing’ players as another problem.

But in an interesting development, the International Hockey Federation, unable to find a suitable replacement for Kenya in the Olympic qualifier, convinced the east Africans to feature in the event.

The African flag-bearers were no doubt ill-prepared for the event.

Africa has a reason to smile as South Africa qualified for the Beijing Olympics during the 2007 All Africa Games in Tunis, Tunisia.

The Africans are provided with their last chance to get some consolation when they return to the field Wednesday pitted against Belarus who are ranked 33rd in the world.

In another entertaining encounter played in Baku, Spain destabilised Ukraine’s hopes of reaching the Olympics with a 3-1 win over the fellow Europeans.

Spain and Ukraine were deadlocked 1-1 at half time with goals from Nuria Camon and Diana Tahiyeva in the 15th and 16th minutes respectively.

Esther Termens and Rocio Ybarra made sure the Spaniards stayed in contention with superbly finished 52nd and 65th penalty corners.

Sixth-seeded Belarus held organisers 0-0 after 35 minutes in a match that goalkeeper Yulia Lashuk made several fine saves to keep the Belarussians into the game.

Myungsoon Mammadova gave Azerbaijan second half lead with a 51st minute field goal.

Zarifahon Zeynalova added the second in the 54th from a penalty corner and top scorer Mi Kyung Alieva completed the bashing with a field goal in the 62nd.

Kenya versus Belarus game will precede Chile-Ukraine match scheduled for 12.35.

The last match of the day pits hosts Azerbaijan against Spain, while the teams will rest on Thursday.

The winner of the six-nation round robin tournament will join China, Japan, South Africa, Argentina,Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia, who qualified for the Beijing Games from the continental qualifications.

After the day four action, Azerbaijan still tops the standings with nine points, same as Spain.

The Azerbaijanis however enjoy six-goal advantage, having sounded the boards 18 times-six more than Spain’s.

Despite losing 3-1 against Spain, Ukrainians stay third on six points, and are followed by Chile (3) with Belarus, who have let in six goals in fifth place and Kenya trailing after conceding 24 goals.

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