Prolific Atuka savours KPC’s underdog tag in club contest

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Thursday, March 21st 2019 at 02:10 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball





Kenya Pipeline captain Trizah Atuka in action on March 20, 2019 [Courtesy]

Seven-time African Women’s Club Championship winners Kenya Pipeline are aiming to use their current ‘underdog’ status to their advantage heading into the quarter-final of the ongoing continental showpiece in Cairo, Egypt.

Yesterday, the oil merchants rallied from a set down to overcome Cameroon’s FAP 3-1 (25-22, 8-25, 18-25, 12-25) in a top of the group C encounter and become the first Kenyan team to qualify for the last eight with an unbeaten run.

Pipeline had already secured a quarter-final ticket with a game to spare following straight sets wins over Rwanda Revenue (25-19, 25-19, 25-15) and Shooting Club (25-15, 25-17, 25-21) in their opening two fixtures.

Margaret Indakala coached side went into the tournament with a relatively new-look side after six of their key players led by Violet Makuto and Noel Murambi followed former coach Japheth Munala at KCB.

While the Embakasi-based side progressed, their Kenyan counterparts Prisons Kenya and KCB put themselves into a precarious position after losing their last group matches.

Local league champions Prisons, who won their first two Group D matches against Cote d’Ivoire’s ASEC Mimosas 3-0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-8) and Nkumba University from Uganda 3-1 (24-26, 27-25, 25-16, 25-21) before falling 3-1 (25-15, 14-25, 25-23, 25-22) to group leaders GSP of Algeria, were due to face off with Egyptian side El Shams, in a must-win encounter last night.

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KCB were also scheduled to clash with Carthage in another decisive tie last night. The bankers overcame DGSP by straight sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-17) in their opening Group B match but complicated their qualification chances after losing 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23) to hosts Sporting.

Despite having a number of new and inexperienced faces in the team, Pipeline captain Trizah Atuka feels the underdog tag can work to their advantage.

“The tournament is very competitive but I’m glad we had a good start and we can only get better moving forward,” Atuka told The Standard Sports on phone. “We came here as underdogs after losing most of the experienced players in the offseason, but that tagline has so far worked for us and with the way we are playing I’m confident we can pull a surprise. It’s so close yet too far, but there is no room for complacency and we’ve to play every game like a final.”

Atuka’s sentiments were echoed by fast-rising Malkia Strikers left attacker Sharon Chepchumba, who joined Pipeline from rivals Prisons Kenya in the off-season.

“It’s not an easy tournament because each team here is fighting for the top prize but one thing for sure, I enjoyed each and every moment in my first match for Pipeline,” said the Kwanthanze Secondary alumnus.

“I’m so far pleased with my contribution on my second appearance. I believe we will achieve our targets.”