Malkia's strikers focus on attack, reception ahead of Colombia tie

By alex wafula
May 20, 2021
  • Kenyan team in training in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday.(Photo by Dennis Machio/KVF)

  • Kenyan coaches Japheth Munala and David Lung'aho at the training session.(Photo by Dennis Machio/KVF)

David Lung’aho, the national women volleyball coach worked on the team’s reception and attack as the team had their first training session in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday.

Lung’aho identified these two as the team’s weak areas and he sought to address them before they step onto the court for their first match of the four-nation Olympic qualifying tournament.

Malkia strikers start their campaign against Colombia early Saturday morning, a match that serves off at 12:10 a.m. Kenyan time.

The two teams have met only twice before, in the World Grand Prix last year with Colombia running out 3-0 winners (25-21, 25-14, 25-20).

Coach Lung’aho though maintains despite that loss last year, they learnt their mistakes and he believes they are a beatable team.

“We learnt them, knew how they play and now we know how to beat them. It is a tough opening match but I still believe we have the capacity to improve and win.

"The girls have settled in well and after our training session yesterday, I see the morale of the team is high,” Lung’aho told Sports News Arena from San Juan.

Second shot at Olympics 

The team endured a 25-hour flight from Nairobi to the South American nation but the coach does not believe the jet lag will take a toll on them despite only a day of rest and training.

“We are happy to be here especially considering that this is a second chance after we failed to earn the direct ticket.

Our players have been busy with club championships and they are in good competition mood.

Our aim is to earn the remaining slot to Rio and we hope to have a good competition.”

The coach said after the side’s training session at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, the competition Arena.

Colombia seek to be the fourth South American nation to qualify for the Olympics having missed out on a ticket from the sub-continent’s qualifiers. Argentina and Peru finished first and second while third placed Colombia were forced to try again through the world qualifiers.

Eduardo Guillaume, Colombia’s Argentine coach is beaming with confidence ahead of the serve off on Saturday night.

“We are elated to be here with all the intentions of earning the berth to Rio and we will do all necessary efforts to finish first. It was a good preparation, under the circumstances, but I can see our team is at a good level,"he said.

The Kenyan team was in residential camp for a week. Lung’aho will bank on a meticulously selected team blending emerging talent and experience.

The return and experience of Janet Wanja, the only member of the team to have ever played in the Olympics as well as Brackcedes Agala should spur the team to success, according to Lung’aho.

Another player expected to play a huge part in Lung’aho’s team is Violet Makuto who was named best blocker in the recently concluded African club championship in Tunisia.

In the second match of the night, Kenya’s perennial African rivals Algeria will take to the court against hosts Puerto Rico, a match that serves off at 3:15 a.m.

Algeria were handed the chance to play in the World Qualifiers after Egypt who finished second in the Africa qualifiers pulled out.