For Malkia Strikers, Cameroon ghosts lurk in Rabat


Malkia Strikers' Mercy Moim spikes against Serbia at the FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan. (...
FILE)Malkia Strikers' Mercy Moim spikes against Serbia at the FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan. (PHOTO/FIVB)

In Summary

  • Cameroon has emerged as volleyball force that can no longer be ignored and Kenya's Malkia Strikers are taking notice after twice being on the end of a hurt inflicted by the West Africans
  • Cameroon has now won back to back African Championship titles but before their triumphant campaign in 2017, it had never tasted continental glory since winning silver in 1999

 

Gilbert Kiprotich in Rabat

Cameroon has emerged as volleyball force that can no longer be ignored and Kenya’s Malkia Strikers are taking notice after twice being on the end of a hurt inflicted by the West Africans.

Cameroon has now won back to back African Championship titles but before their triumphant campaign in 2017, it had never tasted continental glory since winning silver in 1999.

Two decades later they seem to have ascended the throne as the African queens of volleyball after stunning victories over Kenya at their home turf in 2017 and this year in Egypt.

Malkia Strikers will once again have a chance to set the record straight when the African Games serves off tomorrow in Rabat with the two teams paired together once again.

Citizen Digital caught up with seasoned setters Jane Wacu and Janet Wanja who have been a regular pick for Malkia Strikers in a bid to dissect Kenya’s chances ahead of title defence in Morocco.

In the 2015 African Games held in Brazzaville, Congo, Kenya pipped Cameroon to gold and Wacu notes that they don’t have any pressure as they begin their campaign.

“As defending champions, we don’t have any pressure on our shoulders because it is four years since we clinched the title. Our target in every competition is to win gold and same case in this tournament although it won’t be easy,” said Wacu.

With the volleyball games set to kick off on Thursday, Wacu and Wanja were the first players to arrive Rabat on Tuesday afternoon and Wanja notes the build up to the Games has not been good as the team has encountered many challenges including the dramatic ejection from their hotel in Nairobi.

“We lack facilities and government support unlike Cameroon who have been training abroad prior to international events. We haven’t trained for the last four days and neither have we had any international friendlies,” Wanja told Citizen Digital.

Malkia Strikers will be buoyed by the return of head coach Paul Bitok who recently took over the mantle of sharpening the ladies after a short stint by Finnish Sharleen Ramdoo.

Apart from Cameroon, Kenya will also take on Algeria and Senegal in pool B and Wacu has warned her teammates to not only focus on Cameroon and be wary of the threat posed by other teams in the group.

“It is not only about Cameroon, Algeria and Senegal are equally good and so it is important to take a game at a time,” said Wacu.

Rich in experience, the quartet of Wanja, Wacu, skipper Mercy Moim and Noel Murambi will provide the much-needed leadership to the young players in the fray including Sharon Chepchumba and Wanja underlines the importance of balance in the team.

“I think the team is balanced and compared to other teams our experience may play to our advantage in this championship,” added Wanja.

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Story By Gilbert Kiprotich
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