Kenya's second loss to Bulgaria jeopardize's Africa's chances in playoffs

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Aug 03, 2014
  • Kenya's second loss to Bulgaria in one week saw them drop to fifth and the must now beat Australia to rekindle hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.

Kenya yesterday lost to Bulgaria in the FIVB Grand Prix for the second time in a week, a result that severely dented the African champions' chances of making it to the tournament play-offs.

The African Queens were humbled 3-1 (21-25, 25-8, 25-20 and 25-11) by the European powerhouse in this contest that lasted close to 70 minutes.

This result saw Kenya drop to fifth in the overall standings in Pool S, having been overtaken by Kazakhstan, who overwhelmed the other African team in the competition - Algeria - 25-8, 25-9 and 25-7 in another matchstaged in Brno, the Czech Republic.

Kenya who have amassed a total seven points in five games, must now beat Australia in both teams final game on Sunday and hope that Kazakhstan - who have two more points - lose to hosts Czech Republic in the pool's other match to stand a chance of sneaking through to the play-offs on the last day of competition.

Czech Republic lead the overall standings, followed by Bulgaria while Croatia is place third. Kazakhstan are fourth, Kenya lie in fifth, while Mexico, Australia and Algeria occupy the remaining bottom positions in the pool in that order.

Only the top four teams are guaranteed passage to the lucrative play-off phase, where lucrative cash prizes od nearly Sh. 85 million are in the offing.

Best possible start

Kenya who were eager to make up for the 3-2 loss to Bulgaria in Mexico City last week, made the best possible start to the match, and were buoyed by strong support from the home crowd at the Zatika Hall in Porec.

Captain Brackides Agala and Mercy Moim helped Kenya snatch the opening point of the match, a crucial leverage that led to the Queens claiming the opening set. Bulgaria then took over, and dominated in the preceeding three sets.

At one point in the game, the European side led the second set 8-0 at the first technical time out, then 13-0 and 16-2.

"I have noticed signs of fatigue within the squad. I hope we conjure up some energy from somewhere and win our final game tomorrow. Otherwise credit to the girls for working so hard today and matching a big time in some moments," Kenya coach David Lung'aho said after the match.

His sentiments were echoed by Elizabeth Wanyama, the team's libero: "We struggled in reception and the side-out today, you could see we were up against an established team."

Kenya - who are debutants in this tourney - then seemed to give up in what turned out to be the deciding set despite leading for long spells until the 20-point mark.