Hockey Cranes Face Daunting Egypt Task

Hockey Cranes defender Brian Okodi was left elated after Uganda secured a spot in the semifinals of the Paris 2024 Africa Olympics Qualifiers on Wednesday.

The Hockey Cranes who are playing at this competition for only the second time were the underdogs heading into the tournament, however, their fortunes changed when Nigeria forfeited their game against Uganda on the opening day.

Uganda were awarded a 5-0 win as a result, consequently opening the doors for them to have a shot at the last four.

After losing 2-1 to Zimbabwe, Uganda endured a heavy defeat on Wednesday as South Africa humiliated them 11-0 in their final Pool B game.

But because Zimbabwe lost 10-0 to South Africa in their opening game, and Nigeria suffering that forfeited defeat, the Hockey Cranes,despite that damaging loss advanced to the semifinals on grounds of a better goal difference.

Okodi, the Weatherhead defender in the national league was left elated after the game, saying the feat ‘meant a lot’ to the team.

“Watching Zimbabwe vs Nigeria wasn’t easy for us, because at some point it was 3-3, yet we were praying for Nigeria to win,” Okodi started his post match interview by narrating what the team went through before the game.

“When Nigeria scored the winning goal, that’s when we realized we can actually make it to the semifinals. When we came for this game, we knew South Africa is a very hard team to beat, we knew it was not going to be an easy game, but we told ourselves we can do it.

“The boys fought very hard, the managers did their best to instruct us. I’m proud the boys were able to come through.

“This qualification means a lot to us. We have spent the past few days thinking about the semifinals, we told ourselves we can do it.”

A history making feat it is, but another giant awaits Uganda in the semifinals. Okodi and his teammates will face Egypt who won Pool A with maximum points.

Egypt beat Zambia 4-1 in their final Pool game to ensure they progress to the semifinals with a 100% record in the Pool stages.

The Egyptians will go into the game on Friday as overwhelming favourites, but Uganda will hope for a miracle as they seek for a qualification berth for next years Olympics in Paris, France.



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