The regional tourney is set for 28 November to 4 December.
Martin Abunde-coached Black Mamba finished their Kenya Handball Federation (KHF) season on a high, beating Ulinzi Handball Club 31-30 in a hotly contested final match of the season.
Victory for the Kaloleni-based side sealed third place for Mamba as curtains came down on the 2021 season of the top tier league which suffered stoppages due to Covid-19.
Heading to the match, Mamba needed a win to maintain third place while the soldiers were under more pressure to romp to victory as the two points would have seen the former champions move to third place from fifth.
Mamba, however, gave warning shots from the onset as they led 6-2 forcing Ulinzi to go for a timeout to re-strategize. The break helped as Ulinzi went on a scoring spree to come to within one goal of the opponent at 6-5.
Paul Ondara’s excellence in front of goal, however, continued to cushion Mamba from Ulinzi’s pressure but the Wycliffe Juma-coached military side kept knocking. Their efforts paid off with about three minutes left in the first half, taking the lead for the first time at 14-15. The sides headed for the halftime break with the score tied at 17.
On resumption, it was a see-saw on points with both teams exchanging leads at will but Mamba assumed the lead by a goal with nine minutes left to play and went on to win by the solitary goal.
Ondara led the scoring for Mamba at nine while Martin Nguli added five in the side’s victory. Musa Munyasia top-scored for the soldiers at seven with Noah Cheruiyot and Gideon Kiprotich adding five each but it was not enough to deliver the much-needed victory.
“Ulinzi are a very good side and they have the physique and height to dominate any team so we had to be tactical in our plays. Although our shooting was not up to our standards, I am happy with how the squad defended every goal we scored. We also had to play Dennis Magoiya in goal instead of Oscar Olulo as Ulinzi were using their height advantage to beat the latter. With Magoiya in goal, it became much tougher for them to score as he has better reach due to his height.
Since we missed the league title, we now shift our focus to clinching the East and Central Africa Club championship set for 28 November to 4 December in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. Winning our last match against Ulinzi gave us momentum ahead of the regional championship,” said Abunde.
©Mozzart Sports KE.
Lynette Matheka, Journalist.