Malkia Strikers lock horns with Cameroon

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Thursday, July 11th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Malkia Strikers' Captain Mercy Moim receives the ball during their match of the 2017 CAVB Zone V World Championship Qualifiers against Rwanda at Kasarani Gymnasium on Saturday, July 29, 2017. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Stakes are high as record women's African Nations Championship winners Malkia Strikers renew rivalry with champions Cameroon in a crunch Group B final match tonight at 9 pm at the 6th October Hall, in Cairo, Egypt.

Though it is just a group match, there’s no escaping the reality of what’s at stake going by the recent rivalry between the two sides.

There will definitely be no room for errors for the top two sides as both of them aim to secure a semi-final berth with an unbeaten record from the 'Group of death'.

Save for the top spot, Malkia Strikers will be out to revenge their 2017 straight sets final defeat to Cameroon in Yaoundé.

Just before dethroning Kenya in 2017, the fast-improving West African side had denied Malkia Strikers a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics Games in Brazil after upsetting Egypt 3-2.

But with both sides having strolled to comfortable straight set wins in their opening matches on Tuesday, tonight's match promises to be a cracker.

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Kenya overcame a stubborn Algeria 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-21) while Cameroon registered an identical win over Botswana (25-12, 25-17, 25-10).

Though Malkia Strikers captain Mercy Moim played down the notion they could be seeking revenge against Cameroon, stakes remain high ahead of the match.

"This is like a 'final' for both teams. We know how important this match means to us, but we are not thinking about revenge at all. The good thing is that there will be no home advantage to either teams," Moim told Standard Sports on phone.

"We are focused on qualifying for the semifinals with an unbeaten record, nothing else."
Moim's sentiments were echoed by Seychelles-based flamboyant setter Jane Wacu.

"We have seen how fast Cameroon have grown and improved in the last few years. They are very good at blocks, but what we need to do is to play a faster game," said Wacu.

"Our aim is to finish first in the group to avoid meeting group A winners in the semifinals."

But even as the team is plotting to reclaim their continental title, the players are not pleased with how they have been treated by the government.

Unlike national football team Harambee Stars, who were fully supported by the government, Malkia Strikers have had to do with peanuts in allowances.

While Harambee Stars players got Sh 750,000 each in allowances while in Egypt, their Malkia counterparts have been paid a paltry Sh 50,000 by the Federation for the entire tournament.

Interestingly, there was no government official to see off the team or hand over the national flag to the players when they left for Cairo last Friday.

The team met the Kenyan ambassador in Egypt Joff Otieno a few days after arrival.

Today's fixtures

Morocco v Senegal-6th October Hall (5 pm)

Algeria v Botswana-6th October Hall (7 pm)

Kenya v Cameroon-6th October Hall (9 pm)

Day One results

Group A: Egypt 3-0 Senegal (25-15, 25-21, 25-19)

Group B: Cameroon 3-0 Botswana (25-12, 25-17,

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