Kenya will face Rwanda in their opening match of the Zone V Africa Games qualifiers Sunday afternoon at the Lugogo Indoor Arena in Kampala, Uganda as they chase the single slot reserved for the region in the continental showpiece.
They will face Ethiopia in their next match on Monday, before playing Uganda in their last fixture of the tournament organised in a round-robin format.
Their long-time rivals Egypt however pulled out of the competition at the last time due to unspecified reasons.
Malkia Strikers were scheduled to leave for Uganda Friday evening, but a delay in securing their transport caused them to postpone their departure to 8am Saturday.
Kenya Volleyball Federation media liaison officer Isaac Tirop said the problem stemmed from the fact that top ministry officials were out of the country, making the process of funds transfer all the more difficult.
The team is currently under the tutelage of 52-year-old Italian coach Shaileen Ramdoo - who is working hand in hand with long serving national women’s team tactician Japheth Munala.
The experienced Italian is a certified international volleyball trainer with an FIVB Level 2 and 3-course certificate alongside a UK National Sports Coaching badge, and was brought on board by the Kenya Volleyball Federation to strengthen the technical bench.
Munala and Ramdoo have overseen the team’s training at the Moi International Sports Centre Indoor arena for the last two weeks.
The duo on Thursday released a strong squad captained by experienced hitter Mercy Moim and including veteran centre players Kenya Prisons’ Edith Wisa and Triza Atuka of Kenya Pipeline, plus right attacker Immaculate Chemtai.
Speaking to Nation Sport on Friday, veteran setter Jane Wacu, who captains Anse Royale of Seychelles, was brimming with confidence.
“This is a very unique squad because it has a number of youthful players as well as the right number of experienced ones like me. I think that blend is important and I think we will bag the title and afterwards represent Zone Five region in Morocco,” she said.
Kenya will be competing alongside, hosts Uganda, neighbours Ethiopia and Rwanda for the single ticket that will guarantee them qualification to the continental championship.
There is however a provision for the competition’s runners up to go through to the African Games as a best loser depending on the results from the other four zones. Three best losers will go through.
In the 2015 Africa Games held in Brazzaville, Kenya beat Algeria, hosts Republic of Congo and Cameroon to win gold.
Kenya will however have to go through qualification with only the hosts gaining an automatic ticket to the games.