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Malkia Strikers’ World Olympic Qualifier in limbo

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Kenya women's volleyball team pose for a photo in Yaunde, Cameroon during the 2016 Olympics Africa Women's Volleyball qualifier. PHOTO/CAVB

Kenya women’s volleyball team pose for a photo in Yaunde, Cameroon during the 2016 Olympics Africa Women’s Volleyball qualifier. PHOTO/CAVB

NAIROBI, February 18 – Despite booking a ticket for the World Olympic Qualifier, the Malkia Strikers will have to wait until Saturday to know whether they will honour the Repcharge tournament scheduled for May in Japan.

Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) chairman Waithaka Kioni said they might fail to send the team due to financial constraints, but a decision will be made when the National Executive Committee meets on Saturday.

“We are not sure if the team will participate in the Repcharge because of lack of recourses as usual. Unless we get a partner who is willing to spend money then I cannot guarantee our presence,” Kioni declared when the team arrived from Cameroon Wednesday night.

KVF will be looking to stretch its begging bowl to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) and government as they hope to earn the one slot available after missing the automatic qualification.

However, NOCK Secretary General Francis Paul told Capital Sport they are not in a position to rescue the African Queens after giving them Sh3m for the Africa qualifier.

“We supported the team just as we did with the rest so it will be impossible to come on board again but maybe the government can help. KVF should only send a team there if they are sure of making it to Olympics,” Paul affirmed.

Egypt crashed Kenya’s hopes of clinching the direct ticket with a 3-2 semi-final win, sending the Malkia Strikers to the third place play-off against defending champions Algeria whom they beat 3-0.

The KVF boss confirmed he has filed an appeal to African Volleyball Confederation complaining of poor officiating.

“The team gave their best but as normal in competitions like these there were vested interests. In our match against Egypt, something strange happened, I expected the first referee to be neutral but the referee delegate from Algeria ignored an official from Italy.

“An Algerian was appointed as the first referee and a Tunisian as the second match official and that contributed to our loss but I believe we were a better side than Egypt and given fair play we will beat them at any given time,” Kioni underscored.

KVF technical director, David Lung’aho believes Kenya still stands a chance to qualify to the Summer Games for the first time since 2004 and are capable of overcoming Egypt, Colombia and Puerto Rico whom they are drawn with in the Repcharge.

“The girls played so well and if it was not for the bad calls by the referees in the last hour, we were beating a strong Egypt side but we have moved on.

“I have faith the team will qualify if we go to the Repcharge. The young players proved their worth and this has confirmed to me that we will still be African champions for a long time,” The Kenya Prisons women head coach stated.

Head coach Japheth Munala will be looking to improve on their net defence that was a letdown in their first set against Egypt where they went down 22-25.

“We lost the first set to Egypt because of our poor net defence but it’s something that we will be working on.”

The technical bench has no intentions of recalling experienced players, blocker Bracksides Agala and setter Janet Wanja who were axed from the team.

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