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Barasa banks on Lowem, Baraza at U-23 tourney

Celestine Nyongesa and Ann Lowem are expected to play a crucial role for the Kenya Under-23 side at the next month’s U-23 World Championships in Slovenia after gaining experience and exposure at senior level during the recent Africa Zone V qualifiers in Nairobi.

Nyongesa, a libero with the reigning champions Kenya Pipeline and Lowem, a middle-blocker-cum-right-attacker with Kenya Prisons were part of the Malkia Strikers side that qualified for the African Nations Cup to be held on October 7 to 14 in Yaounde, Cameroon alongside Egypt. National U-23 team assistant coach Josp Barasa said the two bring rich lessons on board as the team intensified their training at the Kasarani Indoor Arena, ahead of the global championships set for between September 10 and 17 in the cities of Ljubljana and Maribor, Slovenia.

“It was good to see these players (Nyongesa and Lowem) being drafted into the senior team and actually featuring in some of the games. It gives them the courage and confidence going forward not only in the forthcoming U-23 event but future events as well,” said Barasa, who doubles up as the Kenya Prisons women’s team assistant coach.

He added: “The training is going on well. We have two sessions a day (morning and evening) and so far so good. We can only get better in days to come.”

Barasa said they are only awaiting two players to link up with the rest in training. “Only two players (libero Sarah Were and setter Faith Imodia) are yet to link up with the 16-member squad. The technical bench have talked to them and they have personal reasons but they should join us soon,” noted Barasa.

The team is training under the watchful eye of former international player Catherine Mabwi, KCB coach Vernon Kainga and Barasa. The national team have been drawn in a tricky pool ‘B’ together with champions Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Bulgaria and Cuba. Pool ‘A’ has Dominican Republic, Egypt, China, Argentina, Thailand and hosts Slovenia.

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