Full house as national team begins Olympics preps
All players called to the national handball men’s team have reported for training as preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics continental qualifiers, slated for January 15 to 25 in Tunisia, take shape.
The team will be fighting for Africa’s sole ticket to the Olympics with the consolation for the other five teams, that make the top six, being a ticket to the World Championships.
Rwanda-based goalkeeper Tyrus Omondi was the latest to join the 26-man provisional squad in non-residential training at Kaloleni handball court.
Under the tutelage of Peter Mwathi, the team is largely made up of local-based players with Omondi and experienced left-back Brian Mathews, currently plying his trade in Denmark, the exceptions.
“Training has picked up well and all the 26 are in. We have dedicated the initial weeks of training to offensive formations but all the players are aware that there is a lot of investment to be done defensively as that is our key strategy,” said Mwathi.
Players are set to go on a five-day break from December 23 to 27 before returning to training. The team is expected to be whittled down to 16 at the end of the month.
“We do not have much time this hence the short Christmas break. We will name the final squad three days after resuming training. The 16 will then hit residential camp immediately,” added Mwathi.
The tactician expressed full confidence in his squad of 26, saying that despite most having no experience on the continental front, they are up to the task.
Kenya is in Pool A alongside Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea. They begin their campaign against DRC on January 16 before facing Egypt a day later. They will complete their pool matches with a tie against Guinea on January 19.
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.