Voice of Sport

Kenya won’t be going to Rio: Malkia Strikers volleyballers ambushed by Egypt in Africa zone qualifiers

National Olympic Committee of Kenya [NOCK] will take the flak as well as the Kenya Government for its slow speed in enabling Sports Kenya to play its legal role of running sport in the country


THERE will be recrimination back at home after the Kenya women’s volleyball team blew away their chances of taking part in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The impressions given to their followers was that Malkia Strikers were a shoo-in for the Olympic place after beating hosts Cameroon in the preliminary stage of the qualifier.

No-one warned that Egypt lay in wait to execute a thorough plan to knock-out the Kenyans at the semi-final stage on Monday. The Egyptians won 3-2 (25-22, 24-26, 16-25, 25-20, 19-17) and are favourites for the Gold medal at the Women’s African Olympic Qualifier and for the sole Rio slot for the Africans.

Bronze

Cameroon, qualified with Kenya from their preliminary group had a life-line when they contested they semi-final beating Algeria 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-17) to qualify to the final to face Egypt for the sole African place in Rio. Contesting the Bronze medal at the qualifiers against Algeria will hardly be a consolation for the shattered Kenyans.

Cameroon completely dominated their semi a great advantage being in their blocking (7/1) and serving (4/1 aces). Opposite Nana Tchoudjang as usual played a crucial role in the victory with her unstoppable hits.. She led her team scorers with 12 points followed by Moma Bassoko eight. Yasmine Abdelrrahim led the losers with six points.

Fully fledged

Kenya, fielding basically a second-string side won the 11th All Africa Games Gold medal in Congo Brazzaville last September, after victory of Cameroon in the final. The Kenyans apparently thought their only rival for a Rio place was Cameroon. And with a fully fledged team Malkia Strikers were confident of steam-rolling over Cameroon in the Olympic qualifiers; which they did in the pool games 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-9) to top Pool A. But were they contemplating the strength of traditional arch rivals Egypt?

The make-shift Kenya team at the All Africa Games stopped Egypt 3-2 in the semi-finals in Brazzaville but after that Egypt’s apparent single-minded focus was the contest for the Olympic place. Currently in Cameroon they are sharp and clear favourites for Brazil. The Kenyans, to their consternation, found this out. In a match lasting 127 minutes Egypt showed extra-ordinary performance with the middle blocker Mariam Metwally and spiker Aya El Shami playing the greatest role in the victory.

Changes

El Shami scored impressive 34 points making the competition best scoring performance so far, while Metwally closed the ways of the Kenyan attacks with her stuff blocks scoring 10 points. Among other scorers for the winners, Nada Meawad contributed also crucial 14 points. Mercy Moim led the Kenyan scorers with 19 points followed by Lydia Maiyo and Kibor Chelagat 16 points each.

From the All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Kenya made changes in their team management replacing the winning coach Paul Gitau with Japheth  Munala a former deputy of the then long-time head coach Edward Lung’aho. Prior to the Olympic qualifiers, other distractions in the volleyball set-up in country included the sudden resignation of the Kenya Volleyball Federation [KVF] secretary general Evans Wasike and complaints by the KVF that the country’s management for the Olympic Games in Brazil were not giving attention to the needs of the team training for the qualifiers.

Sports Kenya

The responsibility and general co-ordination of the team that will be composed for the Olympics lies between the National Olympic Committee of Kenya [NOCK] and of course the Kenya Government through Sports Kenya a legal body that the Government is taking too long enable its operations.

The Olympic Games in Brazil run between August 5-25 and so far the Government has not outlined the mandate of Sports Kenya in its first major responsibility are the mangers of sport in the country.