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07.10.2008 Hockey

Abuja African Hockey Clubs Championship - Exchequers Carry Nation's Hope

Exchequers are determined to make a statement at this year's African Clubs Hockey Championship in Abuja, Nigeria, as the big boys in Ghana's four-club representation at the October 16-26 competition.

The Bank of Ghana boys carry a huge responsibility as the flagship team from Ghana at this year's competition on the basis of their qualification as last season's league champions.

This is in addition to their pedigree as silver medallists and twice bronze medalist in the club competition.

Team Manager, Kester Adjao, is optimistic the boys will replicate the feat of their predecessors in the 1990s and early 2000.

Exchequers, arguably Ghana's most valued club at the competition, lost the 1991 finals to Egyptian side, Sharkia, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, by a lone.

Featuring the likes of goalkeeper Frank Awuku, Richard Akpokavi, Eddie Odamtten, Kester Adjao, among other high-profile players, Exchequers were then one of the most feared clubs on the continent.

Seven years later, the team was to make history as the highest scoring club in a single match at the competition. Exchequers mauled Tanzania 19-0 at the Namibia competition and finished as bronze medallists in the 1998 tournament.

Luckily, the bankers have in their fold one of the experienced players and architects of the 1998 tournament. Alfred Armah, who finished as the top scorer, in that competition with eight goals, is still the team's leading scorer and Exchequers are counting on him for another memorable tournament.

And although the team was unable to improve on the bronze they won in 1998 at the 2001 competitions which Ghana hosted in Accra, they are motivated by the fact that the winner of this year's competition qualify to participate in the maiden World Inter-club competition in Spain next year.

The boys, most of whom participated at the last junior championship in Cairo, expressed optimism of winning the ultimate in spite of the challenges ahead.

The team departs on Monday together with CEPS Ladies who are making their debut in the competition. CEPS Ladies, winners of the female league last season and the runners up, Reformers, are representing Ghana in the female category.

Reformers of the Ghana Prison Service returned to Africa after seven years absence. They are scheduled to leave by road on Sunday.

Golden Sticks of the Ghana Commercial Bank who are the second male team from Ghana and bronze medalists at the last championship in Cairo are expected to leave on Friday to acclimatise before the competition.

Story by Daniel Kenu