Four years ago, David Lunga’ho led Kenya to qualify for the World Championship before Japanese Sadatoshi Sugawara took over.
On Sunday, Lung’aho clinched his third victory of the tournament, of 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-19) over Cameroon at Kasarani, to lock Tunisia, Cameroon and Senegal out of the solitary ticket to Japan as the curtain fell on the three-day event.
Wounded and with nothing to play for, Cameroon proved to be a hard nut to crack in a match watched by over 4,000 spectators that included Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his assistant minister, Alfred Khang’ati.
The West African champions threw down the gauntlet, and it took a while before Lung’aho’s girls could respond as Kenya sealed the ticket to Japan.
After seeing their hopes end up in smoke Cameroon started on the wrong note, losing two points through poor service, but recovered in time to hold Kenya at 4-4.
Skilful left attacker Christelle Tchoudjang remained a thorn in Kenya’s flesh, landing several strikes as they rallied from behind to tie the score at 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10.
Poor reception derailed setter Jane Wacu’s effort, but good blocks by Lydia Maiyo, Jackline Baraza and Esther Moim proved crucial as Kenya took a deserved 16-11 lead at the second technical time-out.
Cameroon coach Joseph Nane’s changes were futile as strong attacks from Moim and Maiyo and skilful dodges by Wacu helped Kenya win 25-16 in 18 minutes.
Cameroon came back stronger in the second set, taking a 3-1 lead before two Maiyo spikes levelled the scores at 3-3.
Marguerite Ondoua, Tchoudjang and Colette coordinated well with setter Juliette Asta to lock Kenya out as each team depended on their opponents’ mistakes. Cameroon got a 8-6 lead at the breather.
Lung’aho’s talk did little to slow down the Central Africans, who went on to have a 11-8 lead, but Kenya recovered for 11-11. Poor service by Makuto and Maiyo enabled Cameroon to score, although Kenya led 16-15 at the second technical time-out.
With holes over the Kenya blocks sealed, Lunga’ho’s side opened a four-point lead, prompting Nane to call for a time-out. The tactic temporarily held out Kenya, and Lung’aho reacted by resting Makuto for Edna Rotich. Kenya won 25-21.
Cameroon tried to counter every Kenya strategy in the third set, and Lung’aho rested Wacu for fans’ favourite Janet Wanja as the team setter. The team hinged its performance on her to open a 6-2 and 16-7 lead before winning the set 25-19.
Tunisia recovered from their shock defeat by Kenya on Saturday to beat the event’s dark horses, Senegal, 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-17) in a dead rubber clash in front of 3,000 spectators. The match lasted 60 minutes.