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Sham stand on Pipeline’s path to tourney final

Kenya Pipeline coach Japheth Munala has urged his charges to be wary of the underhand tactics employed by north African clubs, ahead of the  team’s crunch semi-final match at the Women’s African club championship in Cairo.

The oil merchants face little-known Egyptian club Shams at the October Hall on Thursday from 6pm (Kenyan time). The other semis pits five-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt against Tunisia’s Carthage.

“The game plan henceforth is to remain ahead in the scores against the opposition,” Munala, who doubles up us the national women volleyball team’s assistant coach, told Nairobi News on phone from Cairo.

“They (Shams) are a good side with athletic players, but on some occasions when playing at home, they rely on their supporters to intimidate the opposition, or biased refereeing especially from the linesmen. The players also complain a lot to distract the match officials,” Munala added.

Pipeline, who are the most successful team in this competition, will be buoyed by the rich vein of form they have exhibited in this tournament thus far.

FORMIDABLE OPPOSITION

The Kenyan champions have only dropped a single set out of 10 played, in their three outings against formidable opposition, which they conceded to Cameroon’s FAP in a 3-1 group stage victory.

The other ties, against Botswana’s Kutlano in the preliminaries, and the tournament’s deposed champions Algeria’s Groupment Sportiff des Petroliers (GSP) in the quarters, both ended in 3-0 set victories.

In contrast, Shams are yet to drop a set thus far, having posted identical 3-0 wins against Revenue (Rwanda), Saltique (Senegal) and Vision (Uganda) to claim a last four berth.

“They boast an impressive service, plus we need to prepare adequately for the attacks from their number 10 (Aya Elshami),” Pipeline captain Ruth Jepngetich said.

Jepngetich, alongside veterans Janet Wanja, Asha Makuto and Kenya internationals Monica Biama and Noel Murambi are the likely starters.

On Wednesday, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) lost 3-0 (25-22, 25-13 and 25-21) to Cameroon’s INJS in the classification matches.

This was KCB’S third straight loss, having been already beaten by GSP and Al Ahly.