Malkia Strikers edge Cameroon, inch closer to Tokyo Olympics


Malkia Strikers edge Cameroon, inch closer to Tokyo Olympics
Malkia Strikers players and technical officials celebrating after dfeating Cameroon 3-2 in an Olympic qualifier match played on January 7 in Yaounde, Cameroon/Photo/ KVF

In Summary

  • It was an epic volleyball encounter which lacks superlatives to define! But at the whistle Malkia Strikers , at their impeccable best went one step closer to clinching the 2020 Olympics sole ticket reserved for Africa after edging out a stubborn Cameroon 3-2 sets in the qualifier encounter held Tuesday evening in Yaounde, Cameroon.
  • The penultimate qualifier fixture which was deemed as the decider served up a gripping five-setter ending in favour of the Kenyans with swing sets of 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25 and 15-11.

It was an epic volleyball clash which lacks superlatives to define! But at the whistle Malkia Strikers , at their impeccable best went one step closer to clinching the 2020 Olympics sole ticket reserved for Africa after edging out a stubborn Cameroon 3-2 sets in the qualifier held Tuesday evening in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The penultimate qualifier fixture which was deemed as the decider served up a gripping five-setter ending in favour of the Kenyans with swing sets of 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25 and 15-11.

The explosive encounter was yet another series of unending duels between the two volleyball titans in the continent and as any other fixture the match lived to its billing with many thrills and spills but finally Kenya put their biggest hurdle off their backs.

To say that the clash was explosive would be an understatement, but the scoreline does not betray what went on in the court. Knees were scarred, spikes were venomous, the blocks robust and the end game value for time and money.

Kenya announced their quest to win the duel on high note by spiking the hosts 25-16 before the latter regrouped to restore parity in the second set winning 25-23.

Buoyed by a seemingly tired Cameroon, the Paul Bitok coached Kenya took the lead again after claiming the third set on 25-21 points but needing only to win the fourth set, determined Cameroon bounced back to settle the score sending the tie to a decider tie

With the break-neck tie anyone’s to win, Malkia Strikers corrected their undoing in poor service and blocks oozing to the victory of 15-11 points in the decider set to emerge victorious.

By defeating favourites Cameroon, Kenya top the standings in the tournament being played in a round-robin format on eight points one above the hosts and will grab the single ticket if they defeat lowly ranked Nigeria on Thursday. Cameroon will play Egypt in their final match.

Interestingly, Bitok has not tasted defeat against Cameroon since he took over the reigns at the national team last  year August winning in the three consecutive meetings ; 3-2 in African Games finals in Morocco , 3-1 at the FIVB World Cup Championship and the Tuesday’s Olympics qualifier.

The African Games champions are eyeing a return to the Summer Games after a 16-year drought, with their last outing dating back to 2004 where they finished at position 11, similar to the previous and first outing in 2000.

 

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Story By Stanley Mativo
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