What you need to know:
- Luizomar will further trim the provisional squad of 20 to 16 for the 15-day high performance training camp in Morocco.
- He has less than 10 days to do that as the team leaves for Morocco on June 10. Once again, I don’t envy you Coach Luiz. All the best amigo!
Last week on this column I mentioned how Malkia Strikers coach Luizomar de Moura was in for a hard time as Kenyans eagerly waited to see who would make it to his provisional squad for the upcoming FIVB Challenger Cup and African Nations Championship.
And the Brazilian has successfully navigated this selection headache to come up with a 20-member squad that has a good blend of youth and experience.
It’s encouraging that Luizomar has acknowledged current form of local based players who form the bulk of his team that is littered with experience.
Leading the experienced players who are making a return to the national team is the Kenya Pipeline trio of Leonida Kasaya, Rose Magoi and Trizah Atuka. The three players have played a key role in Pipeline’s resurgence and Luizomar will hope that they can rub off their club form on the national team.
In a department that has youthful setters Esther Mutinda, Emmaculate Nekesa and Veronica Kilabat, Magoi stands out as the most experienced.
After fully recovering from a knee injury, she has shown glimpses of the player that guided a second-string Kenyan team to the 2015 African Games gold medal in Congo Brazaville.
Her presence in the national team camp after a long absence will definitely take competition for places to another level with only two setters required in the final squad for the international competition.
Emmaculate Nekesa and Veronica Kilabat, who represented Kenya at last year’s World Championships, have their work cut out to keep their places in the team given that Esther Mutinda is also making a return.
Kasaya’s return will provide Luizomar with more options among the outside hitters which can allow him to change tactics when need be.
At last month’s African Clubs championship, she proved how good she is at reading the game, often coming off the bench to rescue Pipeline in tense moments.
She could easily turn out to be Luizomar’s secret weapon, a reliable player who can absorb pressure and score during crucial moments. Her inclusion together with Jemimah Siang’u will help ease some pressure on skipper Mercy Moim who has at times been overloaded with reception duties.
Also making a deserved return to the team is Atuka who is enjoying the form of her life. It’s befitting that Mama Olympia is back just as Kenya begins the journey to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
She is a brave fighter and always has an aura of motivation around her whenever she is on court. Lorine Chebet, Gladys Ekaru, Belinda Barasa and Edith Wisa, who all made the trip to Netherlands last year, must be on high alert given Atuka’s current form.
Luizomar will further trim the provisional squad of 20 to 16 for the 15-day high performance training camp in Morocco. He has less than 10 days to do that as the team leaves for Morocco on June 10. Once again, I don’t envy you coach Luiz. All the best amigo!