Selection headache for Malkia Strikers’ coach Luizomar
What you need to know:
- Then there is Rose Magoi, the engine that carried the Pipeline team to the final almost single-handedly.
- Luizomar will be in Kenya, assessing players from other top tier clubs for the next five days before naming a provisional side
As Kenya Pipeline and KCB players jetted back home at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Wednesday on their return from Tunisia where they represented the country at the African Clubs Championship, I couldn’t help but marvel at the bright future of the young talents in both clubs.
It was a positive gesture by both coach Paul Gitau of Kenya Pipeline and Japheth Munala of KCB to include youngsters in their team despite the pressure that comes with such a high-level competition. And the young girls didn’t disappoint at Africa’s premier inter-club competition.
Even though KCB failed to defend their title after being eliminated by Algerian side MC Alger in the quarter-finals, Juliana Namutira was a revelation for the bankers.
She has not only shown flashes of brilliance in the local league and play-offs matches, but confirmed that she is indeed one for the future with convincing performances in Tunisia.
Malkia Strikers’ head coach Luizomar de Moura was among the people in the stands who were watching the tournament unfold in Hammamet, Tunisia.
The Brazilian coach has once again been seconded to Kenya by world governing body, FIVB, as part of Coach Support through the transformational FIVB Volleyball Empowerment Programme.
Luizomar likes his outside hitters powerful, good in passing and reliable on side-outs. Even though Namutira still has to polish her reception, she has got unrivaled power in her spike which is a nightmare for any blocker.
Players in top-notch shape
Pipeline’s second place finish can partly be credited to the bravery shown by the young blood in the team notably Pamela Adhiambo, Daisy Chepkorir, Miriam Chelimo and Loise Simiyu.
Coach Gitau fielded Simiyu and Chelimo interchangeably at opposite while Chepkorir and Adhiambo started as the outside hitters.
Adhiambo was a reliable outlet in attack for the Oilers both in transition and on front court while Chepkorir is emerging as a credible force in her position with reception, powerful spikes and floor defence standing out in her game. Simiyu and Chelimo are definitely not yet at Sharon Chepchumba’s level, but Luizomar could chance on either of them becoming understudies of the star opposite.
If the youngsters impressed in Tunisia, established players who have been out of the national team for some time pounced on the opportunity to serve a timely reminder that they are still competitive like before.
Leonida Kasaya and Esther Mutinda, who both last featured for the national team at the 2021 African Nations Championship in Rwanda, have bounced back in style from maternity leave.
Kasaya started the tournament as back-up to Chepkorir and Adhiambo but ended her campaign as a regular starter for Pipeline. She has a volleyball brain made in Brazil and Coach Luiz can only pray that she will have gathered match fitness by the time they play in the FIVB Challenger Cup in France late July.
Mutinda has emerged as KCB's first choice setter and brought back memories of her impressive national team debut in Rwanda two years ago.
Trizah Atuka’s struggles with injuries are well-documented but she has fully recovered and is enjoying the form of her life. Emerging best blocker in this year’s edition only served to justify her case and should be number one on the middle blockers list.
Then there is Rose Magoi, the engine that carried the Pipeline team to the final almost single-handedly. She oozes composure when there is pressure and has maturity that is needed to excel at the top level especially for a setter.
Luizomar will be in Kenya, assessing players from other top tier clubs for the next five days before naming a provisional side. In coaches jargon, they say it’s a “good problem” when majority of your players are in tip-top shape but on this selection I don’t envy you Coach Luiz, you have your work cut out.
All the best amigo!