NAIROBI, Kenya, April 21 – Joel Kiilu, captain of the Kenya Deaf men’s handball team, says his mission at the 24th Summer Deaf Olympics in Brazil is to get on the podium.
The skipper is confident the country will improve on its fifth-place finish in Brazil four years ago at the World Deaf Championships.
“Last time we competed in the South American nation, we were raw, we had no skills, but so far the team have improved their tactics,” Kiilu said.
The 28-year-old centre-back says he hopes to defeat all his opponents, especially reigning world champions Croatia.
Kenya are in Group A alongside Brazil, Germany, Serbia and Cameroon while Croatia are in Pool B alongside Turkey, Denmark, Venezuela and Ghana.
“We know our rivals are competent, they have experience, but again we are ready to meet them thanks to the level of training we have had in the camp,” Kiilu stressed.
Apart from the national team, Kiilu is also captain of Nairobi Kaloleni Young Cobra Handball club.
Thanks to elaborate training they underwent for two weeks at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium under head coach Frederick Omole, Kiilu believes Kenya are capable of easily beating hosts Brazil and Cameroon after studying rivals on YouTube.
“Among the tactics we have learned in training are shooting and setting up a strong back defence.
“Before we leave for Brazil, we will focus on strengthening our wing defense,” said Kiilu.
Optimistic Omole has faith in the 15-man squad he knocked out of the first 24 called up.
“When we started training 14 days ago, the players lacked good coordination as they hadn’t gelled. The good thing is that they were able to find their rhythm quickly as they had played together before .
“The team is now in good shape and that made us optimistic for a great showpiece in Brazil,” Omole said.
Omole’s strategy in Brazil is to win two games in their group which he considers very difficult.
“This is the minimum objective that we have set ourselves in the championships, reaching the range of medals will be a plus for us”, he underlined.
In order to achieve this feat, Omole has challenged the players to focus on defense and speed work which he believes will put them on a level playing field with other world powers.
“A good line of defense and fast play should bring us the necessary wins,” said the coach.
In his own analysis of their group, Omole thinks Germany and Brazil will be tough to break through, but are comfortable getting ahead of the rest of their group rivals.
Before they leave, Omole says he will help the team gel even more by guiding the players through movement, skill, coordination and tactical rhythms.
“I will take them to swimming lessons to help them develop their hand and leg muscles.
“Swimming also helps players cool down after intensive training.
“We’re also going to engage them in a bit of gym work,” he says.
The team’s biggest hurdle is the lack of an ongoing league where players can gauge their power, but Omole insists he won’t commit his charges in any friendly matches to protect them from the pandemic. of COVID-19.
The tactician suggests that deaf teams be incorporated into Kenya Handball Federation leagues to play alongside the audience to improve their game.
“This will ensure continuity and development of talent among the Deaf, especially after an event of enormous scale like the Deaflympics,” he said.