Kenya tackle Egypt

[PHOTO: COURTESY]

The national women’s volleyball players have been warned not to rest on their laurels as they face  Egypt in today’s first semifinal match of the 2017 African Nations Cup cum World Championship qualifiers in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Malkia Strikers may have qualified for the last four unbeaten, but assistant captain Noel Murambi is experienced enough to know the battle is far from over.

This will be a repeat of July’s CAVB Zone 5 qualifiers decisive match in which Kenya beat the North Africans by straight sets of 25-18,25-17 and 25-17 in Nairobi. The other semifinal pitting hosts and Group A winners Cameroon against Senegal will serve off at 8pm tonight.

But with only the top two teams of the one-week tournament qualifying for the 2018 World Championship in Japan, the Kenya Pipeline left attacker has challenged her teammates not to be carried away by their unbeaten run.

The nine time champions go into the semis on the back of four straight-set wins.

Murambi made the point loud and clear on Tuesday night after inspiring the defending champions to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-16) victory over Tunisia, in their last Group B match at Palais des Sports Hall.  

High expectations

“Of course it will not be a walk in the park, but we are equal to the task and ready to meet any team in the semifinals. We are fully aware of what lies ahead of us, but remember, we are here on one mission-to bring the trophy back home. Expectations are very high, so we must deliver,” Murambi told The Standard Sports.

“We feel good for having qualified for semifinals unbeaten. That shows how determined and motivated the team is to retain the trophy and qualify for the World Championship. We thank God for the far He has brought us. We are motivated by our team-work, fighting spirit and of course our usual pre-match ritual (singing).”

Murambi’s sentiments were echoed by her captain Mercy Moim, who said their mission is to retain the title.

“Yes, we beat Egypt in the qualifiers, but just know there are no pushovers in knockout matches. However, we are ready and determined to retain the title. But to achieve this, we must be at our best and play our hearts out,” said Moim.

The nine time African champions trounced Nigeria 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-10) in their opening Group B match on Saturday before seeing off a resilient Senegal by straight sets (25-21, 28-26, 25-15).

Japheth Munala’s side walloped DR Congo 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-12) to seal a semifinal berth before wrapping up their preliminary round on Tuesday.

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