Volleyball U-20: Beware of Nigeria threat, Kenyans warned

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Wednesday, August 29th 2018 at 11:54 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Junior Malkia strikers celebrate scoring a point against Tanzania during their 2018 Women's Under-20 African Nations Volleyball Championship at the Kasarani stadium on August 26 [Photo: Stafford Ondego]

Kenya under-20 women’s volleyball team head coach Paul Gitau has warned his charges not to underrate Nigerian when the two sides clash in the second Group A match of the on-going Africa Nations Championship, at Kasarani Gymnasium, today (4 pm).

Kenya and Nigeria posted contrasting results in their opening fixtures of the week-long tournament, whose top two teams will qualify for the 2019 FIVB World Under-20 Championship in Japan.

The junior Malkia Strikers made a winning start to the competition by thrashing Tanzania 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-11) on Sunday as the Nigerians fell 3-1 (25-17, 20-25,15-25, 20-25) to their West African rivals Cameroon the following day.

And having watched the Nigerians’ match, the experienced coach wants his players to the match seriously.

“It is not going to be an easy game. But having watched them (Nigeria) play on Monday, I know how to handle them,” Gitau told Standard Sports.

 “I take this game with the seriousness it deserves because I don’t want to put my girls under pressure at any given time. If we can beat a team easily, so be it. We all know our capabilities, that’s why I don’t want to us struggle at this stage.

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“They have a very good blocking system but weak in attack and they are also slow in whatever they are doing on the court. If we try and be quick in our attacks, we will beat them very easily.”

Asked about Kenya’s chances after seeing record winners and favourites Egypt claim two straight sets victories in their Group B matches against Uganda and Congo DRC, the 2015 All Africa Games title-winning coach said:

“I can’t talk about our qualification chances right now, maybe after our second match or so. I know people have a lot of trust in me and the team, but I cannot pre-empt our performance at this tournament.

“I don’t want to promise anything now. Let’s wait and see what happens after the group matches.”

He added: “But from the matches I have watched so far, I think Cameroon and Egypt pose real threat. Cameroon are good in attacks and look a bit mature. Congo are equally good.”

Kenya wrap up their preliminary round tomorrow with a tricky fixture against Cameroon.