Brackcides Agala, Janet Wanja, Esther Wangeci in line for Malkia Strikers return

Thursday March 3 2016

National women's volleyball team skipper Brackcides Agala celebrates after their 3-0 win over Botswana during the Africa Cup of Nations Championships match on June 15, 2015 at Safaricom Indoor Arena. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

National women's volleyball team skipper Brackcides Agala celebrates after their 3-0 win over Botswana during the Africa Cup of Nations Championships match on June 15, 2015 at Safaricom Indoor Arena. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Kenya could parade a changed side at the Women's Olympics volleyball qualification tournament in Puerto Rico in May.

Kenya Volleyball Federation chairman Waithaka Kioni has hinted at recalling three veteran players who missed the team's previous assignment in West Africa last month.

The broke Malkia Strikers were partially bailed out by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), which handed them a second chance to qualify for the Rio Olympics via the international tournament which will commence in San Juan on May 20.

Kioni confirmed the team will compete against Colombia and hosts Puerto Rico at the international event, moments after Egypt confirmed its withdrawal citing school commitments for most of its players.

STAR TRIO TO RETURN

In line for a return to the Japheth Munala-coached team are Brackcides Agala, Janet Wanja and Esther Wangeci, all of whom missed the last assignment in Cameroon under unclear circumstances.

"That decision will be made during a technical meeting tomorrow (Friday)," Kioni told Daily Nation Sport on Thursday.

"We have a congested timetable considering the Africa Club Championships in Tunisia in April. Thereafter, we will go straight to camp."

Agala and Wangeci play professionally in France at top flight club Chamalieres, while Wanja - who is attached to local champions Kenyan Pipeline - is a multiple local and continental champion with both the national team and at club level.

Without the trio, Kenya finished third at the African Olympics Qualifiers in Cameroon following a loss to Egypt in the semis, and consequently lost the sole automatic Olympic qualification slot reserved for Africa to the hosts.

"Egypt's withdrawal is no big deal, we are planning to shuffle the team, go to camp early and prepare to get the qualification berth to Rio," said Munala.

Kenya is seeking to compete at the Olympics for the first time since 2004.