Kenya Prisons coach Josp Barasa has predicted a difficult, but exciting season as the transitional Kenya Volleyball Federation National League serves off this weekend across five different venues in the country.
The reigning champions headline Group Two alongside their newfound rivals KCB, Kenya Army and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). Group Two matches will be staged at the Nyayo National Stadium as former champions Kenya Pipeline host Nairobi Water, Nairobi Prisons and Kenya Army in Group One fixtures at their Pipeline Estate in Embakasi.
The wardresses begin their title defence tomorrow afternoon (2 pm) with a tie against Kenya Army before clashing with KCB in what is expected to be an explosive encounter the following day (10am).
But even though Barasa, who is also the national women’s team assistant coach, is somehow pleased with the fitness level of his players, he feels the long break occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic might affect the performance of most teams.
“We had good preparation, worked on our fitness, formation as well as cohesion as we wait for the league to serve off. But I think there will be some rustiness in the opening round of the season because most players have stayed out for long without playing due to Covid-19,” Barasa told Standard Sports moments after overseeing his side play Highrise men’s volleyball club in a friendly match at Nairobi West Prisons yesterday.
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“Though our target is to defend the title, it will not be easy. But we are not going to underrate any team starting with the Kenya Army game. It would be good to get a positive result on Saturday ahead of the tough match against KCB.”
But while Barasa is plotting to retain the title, his former players Mercy Moim and Edith Wisa are eager to help their new club, KCB, revive its lost glory.
Though the two national team players played down the significance of the reunion with their former employers for the first time since ditching them in 2019, they will be out to prove a point.
“I think volleyball is a game of friendship and that’s why I still consider Prisons as my family both on and off the court. Remember, I started off my career at KCB before moving to Prisons. So, there is no tension at all and I think whoever will play well will carry the day,” said Moim.
Wisa added: ““There is nothing much about the Prisons fixture. Though I’ve played together with most of the players both at the club and national team level, I don’t think the hype around is necessary. But it is a good experience I’m going to get.”