Egypt’s absence enhances Kenya's chances in Zone 5 AAG qualifiers

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Feb 26, 2015
  • Mark Omalla from KDF shoot's against Rwanda Police in the regional tournament. The national men's team started training on Thursday for Zone 5 qualifiers. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Egypt’s absence during the Zone five All African Games men’s handball qualifiers in Ethiopia from March 8, 2015 could enhance Kenya’s chances to earn a ticket to this year’s All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville in September.

As defending champions, Egypt have been handed a direct ticket and will not take part in the Zone Five championships.

But, Peter Mwathi, the Kenya head coach warned that the prospects of qualification should not encourage complacency. He urged his players to work harder to ensure they win the regional title.

“It is a good chance for us because every time we come second to Egypt. This time we need to work hard and make sure we lift the crown. Of course it will not be smooth sailing despite Egypt’s absence. Ugandans and Rwandese are coming up very well as good handballing nations and we need to be very cautious and avoid complacency,” he observed.

The men’s team started training on Thursday morning and the women’s team on Friday afternoon. Mwathi who also coaches the Strathmore men’s team will be assisted by Ulinzi’s James Kinyua.

The team will be boosted by the arrival of two foreign-based players in goalkeeper Cajetan Ywaywa who plies his trade in Finland with Team Handball Club as well as centre back Brian Mathews Oduor who plays for Mors-Thy club in the Denmark.

“These are two very experienced players who have played in teams with extremely high competitive nature and their inclusion in the team will be very key. They will add a lot of substance to the team and I am delighted at their inclusion,” Mwathi added.

Three-time Zone 5 champs

The women’s team which has won the Zone five handball championships thrice in a row and finished seventh out of 12 participating teams in the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo will be handled by experienced Nairobi Water Coach Jack ‘Sandan’ Ochieng and assisted by Nazarene University’s Francis Pere.

Ochieng has his eyes firmly fixed on the All Africa Games where he hopes the girls can improve on their 2011 performance. “We want to do better than we did in 2011 and the girls are really hopeful and in high spirits good to achieve that feat. But first we must pay keen attention to the Zone 5 championships and ensure we keep our legacy,” Ochieng’ stated.

Equally optimistic is Charles Omondi, the Kenya Handball Federation’s secretary Charles Omondi. He believes the teams have a podium finish chance at the All Africa Games.

“Our teams have really matured and they are better than in 2011. I am very optimistic we will have a podium finish if not for both of the teams, then one of them,” he predicted.

Locally, there won’t be any league fixtures this weekend as action shifts to Embu for the Eastern Open tournament. The national junior championships will be held as well at Kang’aru boys with the winners set to represent the country at the Patille Cup in Sweden in July.