Bitok: Malkia Strikers will do well at World Championships
Malkia Strikers head coach Paul Bitok is confident Kenya can go past the group stages at the FIVB Women’s World Championships when the global event serve off in September 23.
Kenya are set to renew their rivalry with African champions Cameroon after being pooled together ahead of the 2022 FIVB Women’s World Championships set to be co-hosted by Netherlands and Poland.
Malkia are in Group A alongside Cameroon, hosts the Netherlands, European champions Italy, Belgium and Puerto Rico.
Bitok said the draw was ‘fair enough for Kenya’ and called for early government support to help squad start preparation for the global championships.
“It’s a tough pool but again I can say this is a fair pool compared with the past draws in this championship. We’ve a good squad which if we prepare well we can reach the ever elusive second round.
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“All I can say is urge the government to help us hit the camp early in order to match our opponents who will be very tough. If we start next month, then I believe we will be at a better position to challenge the top teams,” said Bitok.
Malkia are the lowest-ranked team at position 27 of the six in Group A.
According to FIVB Senior World Ranking, Italy and Netherlands are in the top ten as Belgium, Puerto Rico, and Cameroon occupy the 13th, 17th, and 20th positions respectively.
Bitok added that he will give his best to ensure Kenya is at a better position while also expressing interest in the Deputy President seat at the upcoming Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) elections in June. This will be Bitok’s last assignment as national coach.
“It’s my wish as I leave coaching to serve in management capacity, I want to ensure we do very well during this year’s championship. I have a young and promising squad which we have continued to rebuild since I took over.
“The coach who will take over from me, after my final assignment, will really have a good team ahead of the coming championships and this is the squad for the future,” he added.
Kenya, who are the record African champions, will be making their seventh outing at the World Championships as Cameroon make their third trip.
The last meeting in September last year saw Cameroon beat Kenya 3-1 to claim their third consecutive African Nations Championship title as both sides qualified to the World Championships.
Having finished first and second in Kigali during the continental showpiece, the reigning champions Cameroon and Kenya will be representing the continent by virtue of being finalists in the African Nations Championship which doubled up as qualifiers for the World Championship.
Olympic champions USA will clash with world champions Serbia in Group C that also has Germany, Bulgaria, Canada and Kazakhstan.
Debutants Colombia will certainly get a rude welcome to the competition from Brazil, China and Japan in Group D.
Group B has Turkey, Poland, Dominican Republic, Korea, Thailand and Croatia.
The second round will feature four pools of four teams playing once again in a round-robin system.
At the end of the second round matches, the rankings of the four pools will be drawn up taking into account the points scored by each team in the first and second rounds.
The four pool-winning teams of the second stage will qualify for the third stage, together with the top two of the second ranked teams.
The six teams competing in the third round will be divided into two three-team pools.