Mwathi bullish as handball team kicks off Olympic qualifiers
Kenya men’s handball coach Peter Mwathi remains bullish of his team’s chances of making it to the Tokyo Olympics despite their troubled travel plans.
The team left for Tunisia on Wednesday and were expected to parade against Democratic Republic of Congo in their first match Thursday afternoon as they start their campaign for the sole ticket reserved for Africa in the 10-day event.
The East Africans, who are drawn in Pool ‘A’, will then face African champions Egypt a day later, before they complete their pool matches with a tie against Guinea on January 18.
Mwathi said their scheduled late arrival will count for nothing as the team had put in the right mechanism to counter the development.
“Fortunately we have faced players drawn from DRC during the East and Central Africa Club Championships and therefore we know a thing or two about them. We are therefore ready and keen to start the event on high and hopefully the result will go our way at the end of the day,” said Mwathi, who doubles up as the Strathmore men’s handball team coach.
“We have played Egypt a couple of times and they have won but this time round we will just have to wait and see what happens during the match. As for Guinea, we haven’t played them before and we don’t know what to expect from them. However, we have watched some of their videos and we are equally prepared for the match.”
The team wrapped up their training session on Wednesday morning at the Moi International Sports Centre Indoor Arena, Kasarani ahead of their departure.
“The team will compete in the event. It has been struggle but all things have been cleared now,” Kenya handball Federation fixture secretary Charles Omondi said.
The winner qualify for the Olympics, while the top six nations will book tickets to the next year’s World Championship to be staged in Egypt.
Pool ‘B’ has Angola, Nigeria, Libya and Gabon. Hosts Tunisia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Cape Verde are in Pool ‘C’, while Pool ‘D’ has Morocco, Algeria, Congo and Zambia.
A total of 22 players have been training for over a month now and only 16 made the cut.
Simon Mutuku, Teddy Sidai, Kevin Omondi, Martin Nguli, Chris Mayienda, Nicholas Ireri were dropped.
Victor Otuoma, Tyrus Agunda, Nicholas Nyongesa, Bryan Mathews, Rashid Ingwela
Clinton Maiko, Maxwel Munene, Thodosia Sangoro, Paul Ondari, Jackson Maloba, Nicholas Okore, Timothy Kirimi, Celestus Okayana
William Malwi, Allan Simiyu and Morgan Wamalwa
Coaches: Peter Mwathi, Victor Siero