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Volleyball team makes final push for world slot

The national women’s volleyball team coach David Lung’aho is upbeat that the squad will qualify for its sixth consecutive World Championship.

Kenya began their final phase of qualifiers for the FIVB championship against Uganda at the Kasarani Stadium gymnasium on Sunday.

 

The African Queens are in the same pool as Seychelles, Tunisia, Mozambique and Cape Verde.

The team that will emerge top of the pool after completion of the round robin games in the six-day tournament will earn a berth to represent Africa in Italy in September.

Even though the national women’s team has dominated the continent, Lung’aho is leaving nothing to chance. He wants the team to take every match seriously.

Biggest threat

“We would not be taking any team for granted in spite of us having very little information about some of our competitors – especially Seychelles and Cape Verde. I will watch the teams playing before we face them, then come up with a game plan,” said Lung’aho.

“Going by the rankings, Tunisia and Senegal are the biggest threat to our chances of qualification,” he said.

Lung’aho, who has coached the team for the past decade, named a star-studded squad comprising Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja, Esther Wangeci, Violet Makuto, Mercy Moim, Everlyne Makuto, Monica Biama and Bracksides Agala.

Others are Ruth Jepng’etich, Diana Khisa, Joan Chelagat and Elizabeth Wanyama. Esther Mwombe and Gaudencia Makokha were dropped.

A bulk of the players turn out for Kenya’s two top women’s clubs – Prisons and Pipeline. The teams competed at the Africa Club Championship in Madagascar early last year, where Prisons clinched the title.

The national team also won the Africa women’s title last year in Nairobi.

Proper preparations

“Ever since I joined the team, this time our preparations were the best. Training was smooth and uninterrupted. We look forward to extending the good record we have kept over the years. It is our joy when we do the country proud,” said libero Wanyama.

Kenya takes on Cape Verde, Mozambique, Senegal, Seychelles and Tunisia in that order from today to Saturday respectively.

All matches involving Kenya will televised live by Pay TV channel Zuku.

Renowned Argentinean coach Manuel Lazano, who trained the team for nearly a month last year, is expected to help the technical bench duration the duration of the competition.

The women’s team will be seeking to make up for the disappointing performance of their male counterparts, who failed to qualify for the World Championship in spite of hosting the final qualifier.

The men, have failed to emulate the women’s team watched in disbelief as the title slipped away from them.

It was hoped that they would use home advantage to qualify for their first World Championship.

Fans that thronged Kasarani stadium were left left disappointed when the team finished second behind Egypt – the best ranked team on the continent.

Egypt claimed one of the three tickets available for Africa at the 2014 FIVB World Championship in Poland later this year.

The North Africans easily defeated Kenya 3-1 ( 25-21, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-22), before completing the rout in straight sets victories over Cape Verde, Botswana and Zambia.

Egyptian captain Saleh Yussef had earlier said their biggest headache at the qualifier would be Kenya.

“The win against Kenya was the turning point, they are our main threat. After the victory, we knew we could qualify for the World Championship,” said Yussef.

Kenya’s captain Phillip Maiyo said they lost fairly, adding that Egypt was the better team. He praised his teammates for putting up a brave fight.

“We gave our best but lost when it mattered most. We have some regrets but there is nothing much that we can do. I thank our supporters who have stood by us,” the Turkish-based player.

Maiyo has hinted about retirement ohis Facebook page to contest for a top position during the upcoming Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) elections.

Silas Makiso, John Ndung’u and Mike Chemos are some of the local players who impressed during the qualifier but their effort wasn’t enough to take Kenya to Poland.

KVF chairman Waithaka Kioni said the tournament was well-organised, adding that it would have been much better if there was support from the Government.