Hammamet — The women’s handball team earned Kenya’s first medal at the Africa Beach Games in Hammamet, Tunisia on Monday afternoon as they claimed silver, following a narrow final day defeat to eventual champions Tunisia.
The Kenyan girls were beaten by the home girls in the shoot-out, after a 1-1 draw in the regulation two sets.
Kenya lost the first set narrowly, but rose with a resounding and spirited performance in the second half, withstanding huge pressure from the noisy home fans.
However, they could not carry on the fight to the shoot-out with Tunisia showing their experience to win.
They however had done enough to finish second in the five-team round-robin tournament.
Skipper Michelle Adhaimbo was delighted with the silver medal, and says it gives them motivation that they can do even better, having improved from a fourth-place finish in the first edition in Sal, Cape Verde, in 2019.
“This means so much for us because most of the players in the team are necomers and this is their first time at such a competition. For them to go back home with a medal means so much and it gives us motivation to push more,” Adhaimbo, also the skipper of the national regular handball team said.
She added; “This has given us a picture of where we are as a team and it shows us that it is possible to do better. We came very close this time and we will take our lessons and do better in the next championship.”
The Tunisians had won the first set 24-19, marginal errors by the Kenyan girls at the tail end giving the home side an advantage, but they rectified, dominating the second set and winning 20-17.
The opening set was a see-saw affair. With 5:50 played, Tunisia had stretched to a four-point lead going 16-12 up and prompting Kenya for a time-out.
Upon return, Gladys Chilo’s spin shot and Brenda Ariviza’s single-point goal took the Kenyan girls to within a point. They went into the lead for the first time with skipper Adhiambo’s shot for two as a special player hoisting them to 19-18.
But, with 40 seconds to play, the Tunisians turned the tide to their own side, their keeper Leila Ouerfelli scoring for two before making a vital block on the break. They ended up with a five-point win, at 24-19.
In the second set though, the Kenyan girls came back determined. They led from the start and opened an eight point gap with 6:36 played, before Tunisia called for a time-out. They re-strategized and came back, going on a 7-2 scoring run to cut Kenya’s to a two-point lead at 17-15.
With 25 seconds to play, the game was tied at 17-17 before Euphrasia Mukasa scored for two, then Neema Nzai scored for one to win the game at 20-17.
In the shoot-out, both Kenya and Tunisia lost the first attempts. Viona Wandera scored Kenya’s second, with Hanen Romdhan responding for Tunisia. However, Mukasia and Chilo lost their subsequent kicks with Amira Bacha and Saida Sassis scoring to clinch the game for Tunisia.