Day-3 Results: Kenya 3 Burundi 0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-17), Uganda 3 Tanzania 1 (25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-15)
Uganda saw off minnows Tanzania in a thrilling game that ended 3-1 in favour of the hosts to see them qualify for the next phase as seed number two at the just concluded Zone V sub-zonal World Championship Qualifiers at the Lugogo indoor arena in Kampala, Uganda.
Pre-tournament favourites Kenya men’s national volleyball team emerged champions after beating Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi without conceding a set while the Burundians as number three as they registered one win (against Tanzania).
Tanzania finished last and did not make the cut.
“We are tasked to build on this second place finish and post a better performance in the November qualifiers,” Uganda head coach Anthony Ndawula told Red Pepper Online edition on Sunday.
His trusted lieutenant forward Louis Mubangizi could not agree less: “The game against Kenya was a big setback but at least we made it to the zonal qualifier where we promise to play our hearts out.”
“This is the first time we are hosting this tournament so we really did not know what it means to have home support but definitely we enjoyed it,” mentioned Ndawula.
Kenya was the only team at this event with players who ply their trade outside the African continent including Romania based Phillip Maiyo and James Ontere Nyan’gau, one of the world’s top five points scorers in a single game while Ndawula had assembled his team from a host of local league clubs.
Uganda nightmare against Kenya
On day-two (Friday), the Kenyans inspired by their top player power forward Maiyo who made an impressive 15 points, Kenya won the first set 25-16 to gain the much needed rhythm they needed to get into the mood of commanding the encounter against Uganda which was nevertheless enjoying home support with a fully packed stadium.
“We played well today and I feel that this is what we deserve because we have been working hard. Honestly speaking, we are a far better side than them (Uganda),” admitted Maiyo after the match.
Uganda came back strong in the second set and at the first technical time-out, the score was 7-7.
Powered by the assistant captain of Uganda, George Aporu, the hosts continuously attacked the visitors and led 13-12 at the next time-out called by Kenya’s head coach Gideon Chenje.
A see-saw game after that saw the second set tied at 21-21, however, a series of mistakes cost Uganda and Kenya won the set 25-22 to maintain a comfortable lead 2-0.
Trailing by two sets, the Ugandans morale went down and at the first technical time out, Kenya led 8-1. From then on, Kenya found enough tempo to win the third set 25-16.
“We are very glad that we won this tournament, however, it is also true that we did not find much opposition here. We won very easily,” explained the Kenya captain Ibrahim Odindi after their win against Burundi.
The next phase that will bring together Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and the other two winners from the other sub-zonal tournament, Egypt and Rwanda is scheduled to be held in November, however, the venue is yet to be agreed upon as interested countries are expected to bid where after CAVB will select which one is appropriate.