Bakari gets the nod as national team gets ready for qualifiers

By Ben Ahenda: Wednesday, January 8th 2020 at 04:30 GMT +3 | Boxing
Boxer Shaffi Bakari during the team's training session at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi on August 6, 2019. Kenya is preparing ahead of the All African Games to be held in Rabat, Morocco from August 16-31, 2019. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

As the provisional squad of the National Boxing Team for the African Olympic qualifiers gets ready for non-residential training on Saturday, national flyweight champion Shaffi Bakari has been given a clean bill of health to feature in the championships.

The team will camp at Mathare Depot in Nairobi for five weeks before an official residential training camp possibly in Nanyuki thereafter.

Despite achieving a number of positive performances in local and international championships recently, Bakari who sustained a shoulder injury at last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia has been struggling in his matches.

At the final leg of the National Boxing League in Kisumu in November, Bakari dropped in the semifinals of the flyweight bout from nagging right shoulder pain as he could not continue with the match but was lucky to be selected in the provisional squad for the continental Olympic qualifiers.

Yesterday, Boxing Federation of Kenya Secretary General David Munuhe confirmed that Bakari had been given a clean bill of health by doctors and was one of the possible candidates for the flyweight ticket if his form at the African Games in Morocco was anything to go by.

Bakari who won a silver medal at the African Games in Marrakech, Morocco last year is among the 28 member provisional squad who impressed the national selectors during the final leg of the National Boxing League in Kisumu last November.

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“It has been tough to come up with a possible replacement of Bakari owing to his experience in local and international competitions but thank God, all these is now water under the bridge after he passed a fitness test by his doctors to start serious training for the African Olympic qualifiers,” Munuhe told Standard Sports.

Munuhe said the squad will be whittled down to eight male and five female boxers before an official residential training before the final squad departs to Dakar, Senegal where the qualifiers will be hosted from February 20-29.

Yesterday, the BFK boss who doubles up as National Deputy Head Coach to Undugu Boxing tactician Musa Benjamin said the final squad will be picked on merit during residential training by a panel of coaches who include Kenya Police Deputy Coach John Waweru.

“The boxers’ performance at the residential training is what will determine who dons the national team colours in the final squad heading to Senegal,” he declared.
“There will be no shot cut to meritocracy when to it comes to the selection of the final squad for the continental qualifiers,” he stated.

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