Wafalme captain promises good show at African Games qualifiers

Libero James Mutero (left), Levis Ogutu and Outside hitter Naftali Chumba during the launch of Malkia Strikers and Wafalme Stars teams at the Nyayo National Stadium on 10th January 2023 ahead of the African Games qualifiers set for January 21 to 29 in Cairo, Egypt. Jan 10, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Men’s national volleyball team, Wafalme Stars, is currently upping training at Nyayo National Stadium ahead of the African Games qualifiers in Cairo, Egypt set for January 21-30.

The team is optimistic of good results in the Cairo showpiece that also doubles up as Africa Zone V championship.

They hope to soar through the tournament to punch a third ticket to the African Games.

The 2023 African Games set for Accra, Ghana this March were delayed following four postponements due to logistical reasons.

In order to do well in Egypt so as to secure a slot for the continental championships, Wafalme Stars captain Brian Melly says they must come up with a working formula on how to neutralise the hosts who have been very stubborn in the zonal tournament over the years.

Melly believes Egypt is beatable if Wafalme Stars plan well for the event.

“We know they are such a powerhouse in Africa but we just need to train well and plan accordingly.

“We will devise means to ensure we overcome them again the way we earned a 3-2 victory over them in our last encounter in Rwanda.

“I believe it’s not a big deal, with great focus and determination we should qualify for Africa Games with ease,” Melly told Standard Sports.

Melly is happy with the ongoing progress at their training in Nyayo Stadium that started on Monday and was officially opened by Kenya Volleyball Federation on Wednesday.

He says they have learnt lots of tactics that should help them overcome other emerging forces in the zone like the East African neighbors Rwanda and Uganda who are gaining foothold in the sport.

The General Service Unit player is also proud of his promotion into full captaincy by head coach Gideon Tarus ahead of the Egypt showdown as regular team skipper and opposite attacker Enock Mogeni is still stuck on probation at his new Al Ahli Sports Club base in Qatar.

Also yet to link up with the squad is middle blocker Simon Kipkorir who is on official duty with Mouloudia Boussalem in Tunisia.

“As a captain, I’ll do my best to ensure the team is on right path in the Egypt qualifiers,” Melly said.

Melly’s sentiments were echoed by coach Tarus who also insists Egypt is a  beatable.

“Our target in Cairo is to qualify for the African Games, I expect my players to play well in the championship going by the kind of homework we are currently doing at the camp,” Tarus said.

The coach says the high morale among his charges at the camp makes him strongly believe that they are ready for the Egypt championship.

Tarus is expecting two foreign-based players who he will utilise to strengthen the squad before their departure to Cairo on January 20.

He is glad that his side has greatly improved on reception and defence which has been their biggest drawback over the years internationally.

Wafalme Stars have taken part in the African Games twice with their last participation in Maputo, Mozambique in 2011 where they won bronze.

Former Japan based Dennis Mokua who was with the side in Maputo has been drafted into the team’s technical bench as an assistant coach and his vast experience will be very key in the Egypt qualifiers.

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