Malkia Strikers shift focus to Cup of Nations after securing AAG qualification

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Thursday, May 23rd 2019 at 00:05 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Malkia Strikers middle blocker Edith Wisa celebrates while in league action with Kenya Prisons. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

National women's volleyball team, Malkia Strikers have quickly shifted their focus to the 2019 African Nations Cup in Egypt, after qualifying for the All Africa Games slated for August in Rabat, Morocco.

The nine-time African champions successfully defended their Zone Five AAG Qualifiers title with an unbeaten record in a four-nation tournament in Kampala to secure a ticket to the Rabat showpiece.

But after overcoming the trio of Rwanda, Ethiopia and hosts Uganda with straight sets, the Japheth Munala-trained side's focus will now be to reclaim the continental title they lost to their new-found rivals Cameroon in Yaoundé, two years ago.

However, going by the teams that have already confirmed their participation for the event slated for July 5-15 in Cairo, it will not be a walk in the park for Kenya.

Malkia will face stiff competition from champions Cameroon, perennial rivals Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and three other teams.

Even as many expect the team to lift their tenth continental title in Cairo, for Kenya Pipeline captain and middle blocker Trizah Atuka this would be a perfect training ground for the East Africans ahead of the AAG.

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"The Zone Five tournament wasn't easy, but we are happy to qualify for the All Africa Games in Morocco. But as you know, that's where our real character will be tested. For us to represent our zone well and retain the trophy, we must prepare well," Atuka told Standard Sports.

"We've two missions in Cairo, to reclaim the Cup of Nations as well as use it as a build up for the All Africa Games. It’s going to be very competitive and we have to prepare well. If we adequately prepare for a month or so, then be assured we will come back with both trophies."

Atuka's sentiments were echoed by her Prisons Kenya counterpart Edith Wisa as she reflected on their performance in Uganda.

"The tournament was tough. As witnessed at the club championship, we went there knowing that no team will be easy. Uganda really gave us a run for our money. Compared to Ethiopia and Rwanda they've really improved. It's one of the teams to watch in the region," said Wisa.

"It's an awesome feeling to qualify for the AAG. We are optimistic that we will defend the title given we have a new coach from Italy. 

"From the few training sessions we've had with him, I know he will bring a lot of difference on the bench in terms of tactics that will help us win the AAG."

The team arrived back from Kampala yesterday afternoon.

Kenya's AAG Qualifiers results
Kenya 3-0 Ethiopia (25-14, 25-8, 25-10)
Rwanda 0-3 Kenya (10-25, 17-25, 10-25)
Kenya 3-0 Uganda (25-20, 25-17, 25-16)

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