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Pipeline lament poor officiating at club championships

Kenya Pipeline volleyball team returned home on Tuesday to a heroes’ welcome after finishing second in the African Club championships which ended on Sunday night in Cairo, Egypt.

The players, coaches and heads of delegation all decried biased officiating say the match officials were hell bent on making the Egyptians win.

“It is not an excuse. We were the best team in the competition, but we were robbed of victory by the referee,” said Kenyan international Janet Wanja who was voted the tournament’s best setter.

Coach Japheth Munala reiterated Wanja’s sentiments but added that they would have to work on reception ahead of the All Africa Games qualifiers which begin later this month in Kampala, Uganda.

“Officiating was poor throughout the tournament and when we couldn’t take it anymore we lodged a formal complaint with about a certain Algerian referee. But we were surprised to find out that she was the same referee who had been appointed for the final match,” he said.

BAD TREATMENT

“The referee kept intimidating and harassing us with delayed calls, dubious red cards and unwarranted penalties. During the last set when we were just two points behind Al Ahly, the referee called off the match even before Wanja could toss. We were treated very badly and I hope not to see such kind of officiating ever again,” the coach added.

However, Munala said that all focus now shifts to the All Africa Games, where he believes the national team will go all the way.

“Our only weakness was in reception and that is something intend to rectify. The girls were excellent in all other aspects including power, attacking and setting.

“I have no doubt that we shall win the qualifiers because at least we will not be playing in Egypt,” he said.

Kenya Commercial Bank, who also took part in the competition, returned to the country on an earlier flight and landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at on Tuesday 2:04pm after finishing 11th with only one win against Botswana’s Kutlwano.

Hosts Al Ahly won the championships after recording a 3-1 win over Pipeline in the final, while Carthage of Tunisia took the bronze medal ahead of fourth placed El Shams (Egypt).