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Kenya gears up for Olympic handball qualifiers

Saturday December 07 2019
matthews_pix

Kenya 's Brian Mathews (right) vies for the ball with Victor Luvale of Kenyatta University handball team during their friendly match at Kaloleni grounds on December 7, 2019.PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

By AGNES MAKHANDIA

National men’s handball team coach Peter Mwathi has dared his side to go for the sole continental slot during next year's Olympic qualifiers in Tunisia.

While Mwathi is aware it’s not going to be a walk in the park considering it’s the first time Kenya will be gracing the January 15-25 event, he remains optimistic of the team pulling a surprise.

The tactician noted that should the team fail to book the sole slot for the 2020 bonanza, they should push for a position six finish as that will qualify them to the 2021 World Championship to be held in Egypt.

“This is a case of killing two birds with one stone and we have to get atleast one bird. The teams we are going to face in the 10-day event are tough, but we are training hard to leave a mark at the event.

This is a totally young squad and they are willing to learn and we hope by the time the event comes calling, we will be at the better place,” noted Mwathi, after guiding his side to two friendly wins against Kenyatta and Strathmore University at the Kaloleni grounds on Saturday.

The national outfit won against Kenyatta University 35-27 and 39-19 against Strathmore University.

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Mwathi said only players from Kenya Defence Forces and international Tyrus Omondi of Rwanda Police are yet to report to non-residential camp, but remained hopefully that it will be a full house by Monday.

KDF players are Nicholas Otieno, Nicholas Ireri and Gideon Mulwa.

“The players in the camp are gelling well and I hope those who are yet to hit the camp will do so and failure to do that, we might be forced to start planning without them going forward ,”said Mwathi, who doubles up as the Strathmore coach.

Denmark-based player Brian Mathews said the youthful squad has what it takes to ruffle a few feathers at the event.

“This is a total different squad and top players drawn from various clubs that feature in the ongoing Kenya Handball Federation national league. Their energy is amazing and with the training we have had so far, I think we are headed in the right direction and we can only get better,” said the left back.

The East Africa side has been drawn in pool A alongside Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.

Kenya begin their title hunt against DRC on January 16, before they take on Egypt the following day. They complete the pool match with a tie against Guinea a day later.

Pool B has Angola, Nigeria, Libya and Gabon. Hosts Tunisia, Cameroun, Ivory Coast and Cape Verde are in group C, while pool D has attracted Morocco, Algeria, Congo and Zambia.

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