A record number of 13 African premier hockey clubs of which four are from Ghana, have converged in the Nigerian capital, Abuja for the October 16-26 prestigious African Hockey Clubs Championship of which the winners will represent the continent at the world event in Spain next year.
All the big guns are in town except teams from South Africa who over the years have played down on the competition for no apparent reason.
Present as always is the male defending champions, Sharkia of Egypt, who have been dethroned as that country's champions by emerging force, Police.
It has taken the Police team, dominated by both senior and junior national team players, 25 years to get Sharkia off the summit. That rivalry could be stretched to Abuja as two of Ghana's revered clubs, Exchequers of the Bank of Ghana and Golden Sticks of the Ghana Commercial Bank, join in the contest as one of the likely winners.
Ghana has failed in her attempt to win gold at the competition since its inception about two decades ago. The closest she has come was Exchequers' silver medal feat chalked up some 17 years ago in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The same feat was repeated by Extinguishers of the Ghana Fire Service in Kenya four years ago in the female division but none has gone above that.
The task this year as promised by Exchequers' team manager, Kester Adjao, is to win the ultimate which he believes is achievable. The team's live wire, Alfred Armah, is expected to produce the magic that won him the goal king in the 1998 competition which propelled Exchequers to win bronze.
His long years of experience and his power drives could be all that the team needs to surmount the challenges from the big guns.
Golden Sticks are privileged to have assembled almost the same squad that won them bronze at the last championship in Egypt but they would need to work on two key players, Joseph Appiah and Daniel Lamptey who limped off during last Wednesday morning training session.
Ghana's female debutants, CEPS, and Reformers who are making their second appearance after the 2002 competition in Ghana would have to play above themselves to enable them to dethrone champions, Telcom of Kenya.
Also in the female pool are Heartland of Nigeria, Sharkia Ladies, Blue Eagles of Nigeria and Bayelsa Queens also of Nigeria.
Only the winners in the female and male divisions, which also includes two Nigerian teams, Yobe Desert and Delta Force, will represent Africa at the maiden World Inter-Club Championship in Spain in February.
Preview by Daniel Kenu