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Losing grip?Or just a mere slip up for Kenya

By BRIAN YONGA February 28th, 2014 3 min read

After five consecutive World Championship appearances, Kenya watched in disbelief as Tunisia pulled the rug from under their feet and qualified for the competition for the first time since 1986.

It was expected that the African Queens, who defeated Senegal, Uganda, Seychelles and Mozambique, would easily subdue the North Africans – but the hunter turned the hunted.

Women’s failure to make the Italy World Championship came a week after the men’s team also fell short in their quest for a trip to Poland. The Egyptian men’s team earned a berth to compete at the Poland World Championship from August 30 to September 21.

Kenyan men’s performance didn’t come as a surprise but it’s the women’s show that left fans scratching their heads.

The women, who were unbeaten in the last five World Championship qualifiers, were a pale shadow of themselves.

The warning bell sounded when Kenya uncharacteristically lost the first set. The North Africans appeared well-armed to stop the heavy spiking Kenyans in their tracks.

They foiled Kenya’s attack, using a combination of a highly technical game at the backcourt and near the net, Tunisia carried the day.

Kenya wobbled through the sets, losing 21-25 in the first, fighting to win 27-24 in the second, they raised hopes by emphatically crushing Tunisia 25-15 in the third set, before losing 26-28 and falling 10-15 in the decider.

Low morale

A number of reasons including lack of build-up matches, low morale and little or no support from  the Government and Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) led to the team’s failure.

This is poor treatment for a team that won the 2011 Africa Cup of Nations to qualify for the World Cup but lost to Algeria during the qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Players complained over meagre allowances after participating in the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Championship qualifier.

The team got a paltry Sh5,000 each in allowances for the Africa Cup of Nations and Sh10,000 each for the World Championship qualifier. KVF accused the Government of neglecting the team. Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr Hassan Wario showed up on the last day with Sh500,000. The players were each paid Sh13,000, a drop in the ocean compared to what the Tunisian Government played its players.

Skipper Brackcides Khadambi, who was reluctant to talk about the allowances, however, took both the Government and KVF to task over their poor preparations.


Poor training

“They don’t expect us to move our game to the next level if they can’t support us. There is no way we can beat teams such as Tunisia if we continue training at home,” she said.

Khadambi said Tunisia and Rwanda,  went for residential camp in Europe with full government backing.

Head coach David Lung’aho said Kenya needs to develop structures for growth. He said this matter has been raised before but nothing had been done.

“It’s not the end of the world. We shall analyse what went wrong. We need to focus and build a team that would qualify for the 2015 World Cup,” he said.

Lung’aho urged fans not to lose hope. He said Kenya was strong and they would reclaim their place back.

“Do not condemn the team for failing to qualify. Even though a team is judged by it’s last performance, we will live to fight another day. Kenya is the home of volleyball champions,” said the coach.

Lung’aho said Kenya would use its experience over the years to return to the top. Lung’aho said the generals were only wounded but would be back in no time.

KVF chairman Waithaka Kioni said they would seek help from the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) to set up proper structures for developing the national teams and the  sport at the grassroots.