•Elikem has more than 80 caps for Ghana and has captained Exchequers since 2016.
•The veteran hopes to carry on playing for as long as he can advise young players.
Birmingham-bound Akaba Elikem reckons the physicality of the Kenyan teams has prepared Ghana national team hockey players for a bruising battle at the Commonwealth Games in July.
Elikem is the captain for both the Ghana national team and Exchequers club. The 35-year old was part of the 23-member squad that took part in the week-long Gold Cup club invitational hockey tournament at the Dashmesh Hockey Stadium along Forest Road, Nairobi.
Alikem has been a lynchpin in the national side for the past 17 years after making his debut in 2005. Exchequers have five national team players.
The West Africans found the going tough as the tournament wore on, registering two draws on the bounce before losing to eventual champions Kenya Police 2-1 in the cup decider.
Prior to their dwindling fortunes, they had won three consecutive games in the four-team tournament.
"It has been really tough here (Kenya). Teams especially Police are very physical and very strong. Strathmore and USIU-A Mashujaa were technical on one versus one situation and our players could not match them physically. We knew it will be tough that's why we prioritised giving the young players the chance to showcase their talent," Elikem hinted.
"National team players enjoyed the physical approach as much as they are used to the tactical and technical aspects of the sport. These experiences will come in handy and individually, we took the matches as part of the build up for the Commonwealth Games."
Elikem has more than 80 caps for Ghana and has captained Exchequers since 2016. The veteran hopes to carry on playing for as long as he can advise young players.
" The young players need consistency. Trying to understand the basics of the game needs discipline. It is a discipline that has kept me at the top for this long. They need to measure their progress both in training and during matches."
He continued: "I was impressed with Strathmore and USIU. They have some young exciting guys who if well developed, will hit the heights because they are athletic and technically gifted."