Oman sends Kenya sinking away in global beach Kabaddi

The Kenya national men's Kabaddi team. (PHOTO/Bernard Ndong')
The Kenya national men's Kabaddi team. (PHOTO/Bernard Ndong')

The national men’s Kabaddi team crashed out of the international beach tournament at the Mont Choisy public beach, Mauritius as they sunk 42 – 51 to Oman in their deciding pool match.

Kenya was targeting a final berth to face Sri Lanka but the Middle Eastern state executed a tactical master class to quash their hopes.

Oman, however, went on to lose 40-21 as the Sri Lankans claimed in the inaugural men’s global competition.

Kenya’s first day on March 18 at the event was a tale of mixed fortunes, launching their campaign with a 61-28 pummeling of hosts Mauritius before slumping to a 54 – 30 in the hands of Sri Lanka.

Mathematically, a victory in their final group against Oman would have guaranteed their progression to the final after Sri Lanka clinically dispatched a stubborn Mauritius side 53 – 23.

The beach format of Kabaddi is different from the conventional game and is played for 30 minutes, with two 15 minutes halves with four players on opposing sides.

Kenya was trailing Oman 18 – 8 after 7 minutes sending out a warning signal to the Kenyan camp as they struggled to conjure a worthy response.

Points are amassed when an attacking player known as a raider successfully touches the opposing team members; the defense secures points when they are able to prevent the raider to exit the half to return back to their side.

Kenya seemed to be doing everything wrong as the Omanis neutralized their incessant waves of attacks effortlessly. At the interval, the score line favored Oman leading 24 – 19 Kenya struggling to find their rhythm.

A stern half time talk by head coach and president of Kenyan Kabaddi Association Laventer Ogutu reinvigorated Kenya’s charges and they rallied to within two points of the opponents as the score line stood at 35 – 33 after being tied 32 – 32 momentarily.

After the third time out, it was a one-point game and it seemed Kenya would salvage the match and a place in the final. 6 minutes to go the momentum shifted in favor of Oman, a former Asian games bronze medalist as they slowly piled points, Kenya’s blunt attacks failing to amount to anything as they chased the game and the clock.

A late surge in the final moments of the game led by burly Odhiambo Zuma notching 4 points in quick succession was not enough as Oman unexpectedly bundled Kenya out of the tournament in painful fashion. It was unbridled joy for the Omanis but tears and gloom in the Kenyan camp as they rued their loss.

Oman’s manager Hamed Ali Yehmadi who surprisingly was fluent in Swahili told Citizen TV that his team had studied Kenya’s physicality and plotted their downfall the day before.

“Kenya they played very well, they are very strong, we strategized in terms of physicality we couldn’t match them so we were just patient and waited for them to tire out.”

The Kenyan camp was inconsolable and they took cover under the palm trees at the Camp Choisy Beach casting a dejected lot with some teary-eyed for exiting the tournament prematurely.

“We underestimated them, we fought there was a time we were drawn but the team that has been blessed by God there is nothing you can do. We will go back home to regroup; in the next tournament we will rectify on our mistakes.

Sri Lanka won the overall title with a clinical 40 – 21 demolition of Oman as they clinched the bragging rights under the sweltering climate in Mauritius. India edged England in the Women’s final.


-Bernard Ndong’ is reporting from Mauritius.

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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