Nairobi — Kenya Ports Authority face baptism of fire when they tackle unbeaten First Bank from Nigeria this morning in a decisive match as the Africa Cup women's championships enters crucial stages in Gabon.
KPA who were due to play Inter-Club of Angola in the last match of the day last evening must beat First Bank by all means if their dreams of reaching the last four i to be realised.
First Bank, no doubt one of the best teams at the championships, are in no mood to lose to the Kenyans after beating Inter-Club 67-64 and Somo "B" of Gabon 68-64 to top pool "B".
Work extra hard
KPA who lost to Somo "B" 48-57 will have to work extra hard against the Nigerians who have vowed to beat defending champions Djoliba from Mali in the finals.
"It is going to be a tough match but we are prepared for it after watching the Nigerians play in the their other matches," team manager Edward Oduor said.
He said the players had now adjusted to the Gabon conditions and should therefore not have a big problem tackling their opponents.
KPA will once again rely on Caroline Arato, Ethel Wakesho, Miriam Awuor and Fadya Mohammed for points.
In other matches today, Dolphines from Nigeria take on ABC of Cote d'Ivoire, Ferroviario from Mozambique entertain Premiero de Agosto of Angola, while ISPU of Mozambique square it out with Inter-Club , Arc from Cote d'Ivoire take on Somo "B" while Djoliba take on Hatari from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After losing their opening match 48-59 to hosts Somo "B" from Gabon, Kenya Ports Authority recovered to beat ISPU from Mozambique 62-57 in a tough African women's Championship game in Libreville, Gabon yesterday.
It was a sweet victory for the Kenya dockers who trailed in all the three quarters and took the lead only when it mattered the most in the last minutes of the game.
Miriam Awuor who top scored with 22 points scored the opening basket for KPA after the Mozambicans had taken a 5-0 lead.
Four more points from Gladys Wanyama and Caroline Arato helped the dockers to close the gap as ISPU led 8-6 .
The closely contested game saw KPA pile the pressure on their opponents in the second quarter trailing by only a point at 28-29 by the break.
A late rally by the dockers, who applied their traditional pressure defence, saw their opponents crack in the last quarter as they went ahead to win with a five points difference.
Speaking to the Daily Nation from Gabon, team manager Edward Oduor praised the players for a job well done and blamed the first defeat on the heavy rains.
"We are used to playing in indoor courts. Playing in an open roof court made life difficult for the ladies, a situation which was made worse by the heavy rains," Oduor said.
Personnell manager Salim Chingabwe who is leading the delegation said he had been impressed by the Kenyan performance so far. He singled out the organisation of the team as particularly outstanding. and predicted they will finish in a respectable position.
"We arrived in Gabon safely and it looks like the players have now adjusted to the conditions here. It makes me think that we are as good as title contenders," he said.
KPA return to the courts today for a match against Inter-Club from Angola from 4pm East African Standard time.
In other matches yesterday, defending champions Djoliba from Mali took on Ferroviario of Mozambique in the first match. This was immediately followed by the First Bank (Nigeria) v Arc (Cote d'Ivoire), Dolphins(Nigeria) v Hatari (DRC), Somo "B" v ISPU (Mozambique), ABC (Cote d'Ivoire) v Primiero de Agosto (Angola).