TUNIS, April 22 – Kenya’s representatives at the 2016 CAVB African Volleyball Club Championship Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Prisons have been drawn in tough pools ahead of the serve off this evening in Tunis.
Record champions Pipeline will headline Pool C and begin their campaign against Ghana Police in a group that also has hosts Sonatrach and Cameroon’s FAP.
Prisons are in a five team Pool D and begin their campaign against a Cameroonian side as well, Injis. The group also has Egypt’s El Shams, Ndella from Gabon and Nigerian champions Jos.
Prisons head coach David Lung’aho has admitted it will not be an easy walk but keeps the faith they can pull through to the knockout phases if they stick to their pre-tournament game plan.
“It is a very tough group to be honest because none of those teams there are easy. Our campaign will all depend on how we play our first match. I have a very young squad with me, most of who have never played at this level. If we manage to handle our first game well and play according to how we have planned, then I see a possibility of us doing well,” Lung’aho told Capital Sport from Tunis after the draw was conducted late Thursday night.
Despite carrying with him six young players making their debut at the continental stage, Lung’aho will be looking to the experience of Mercy Moim who managed to get a last minute clearance from FIVB to play for Prisons after finishing her contract with Finnish top tier side Orpo.
“I believe we have a good team of young determined players and looking at their level, I am confident we can give a good account of ourselves. It will be a tough tournament but we will be there to give our best,” Moim told Capital Sport.
Lung’aho had hoped to have setter Jane Wacu and middle blocker Brackcedes Agala as well, but their clearance could not go through in time as their season with French side Chamalieres ended late.
Compatriots Pipeline who have been crowned champions seven times have not won the title since 2011 and head coach Japheth Munala has taken it upon himself to ensure the title returns to their trophy cabinet after an 11-year wait.
Assistant captain Trizah Atuka speaking to Capital Sport from Tunis believes they will be in a fair group but says they cannot afford to take any opponent lightly.
“We have never played against either of those teams and we don’t know much about them. However, we cannot afford to relax and we will approach all games with seriousness. Our ambition is to get to the final and we will do our best to achieve that,” Atuka said.
The Kenyan girls who have won the local championship twice in a row lost out in the final last year to Egypt’s Al Ahly and the pain of that loss will spur them on to make amends this year.
Pool B will arguably be the group of death as it pits defending champions Ahly, Sfaxien from the host country Tunisia, Cameroon’s Bafia and Algeria’s Wilaya Bejaia.
Pool A has Tunisia’s Carthage, Uganda’s Ndejje, Rwanda’s Revenue Authority and Algeria’s Mechaal Bejaia.
The group stage matches serve off on Friday evening and will culminate in the final on May 1.