Malkia Strikers aim to have the last laugh

By Standard Sports: Friday, December 27th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Malkia Strikers Middle blocker Trizah Atuka. [FIVB]

The national women volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, are among the five finalists who will be battling for the top prize during the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Gala set for Mombasa, on January 24.

The African volleyball queens will battle for the bragging rights to be named the 2019 Team of the Year in the women category alongside Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) basketball team and national women football team, Harambee Starlets.

Women Premier League champions Vihiga Queens and national women sevens team Lionesses are also in contention for the award in the event that is sponsored by Safaricom.

Other sponsors are Mombasa County, Kenya Pipeline, Communication Authority of Kenya, New KCC, Lapfund, Kenya Power, UBA Bank, Nairobi Bottlers, Kenya Ports Authority, NHIF, NSSF, Kenya Tourism Board and GOtv.

Malkia Strikers were nominated for the award after successfully defending the African Games title in Morocco, in September, where they defeated rivals Cameroon in the final to win gold medal.

They went into the final with a mission of defeating the Central Africa country that had beaten them at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament held in Egypt, in July.

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Malkia were forced to settle for second place at the Africa Cup of Nations despite having gone through the group stages unbeaten.

After the African Games in Morocco, Malkia Strikers went to the World Cup in Japan where they faced stiff competition from other established teams.

They, however, came back from the global event having won one match as they once again beat rivals Cameroon.

On their part, KPA emerged second in the just concluded Zone V championship losing to JKL from Uganda.

KPA boasts having sent seven of their top players to the national team. The Mombasa-based team also reached the final play-offs of the Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League where they lost 3-2 to Equity Bank in the best-of-five finals.

Meanwhile, Kenya Lionesses once again showed why they are a force to reckon with after they qualified for Olympics for the second successive year. Lionesses also played at the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.

At the Hong Kong Sevens, the Felix Oloo-coached side reached the Cup semis after losing 17-5 to eventual winners Brazil.

They topped Pool B with victories over Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and Uganda and in the quarters, they beat Argentina.

Harambee Starlets will, however, hope their exploits at the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) where they won the Challenge Cup, will give them mileage over the four other teams.

Apart from winning the regional tournament on an unbeaten record, Starlets did not concede a single goal and also produced the top striker in the tournament, Jentrix Shikangwa.

Starlets also reached the penultimate round of the 2020 Olympics Qualifiers, but they eventually lost to Zambia in a two-legged tie. 

The other football team hoping for a good outing are Vihiga Queens.

The girls won the Women Premier League, losing only one match.

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