Malkia Strikers confident ahead of Africa Cup of Nations tourney

Malkia Strikers attackers Mercy Moim and Veronica Adhiambo celebrate a point against Puerto Rico at the World Championships action in Netherlands on October 1, 2022. [Courtesy]

Malkia Strikers are full of confidence ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.

The winner of the continental tournament that serves off on August 13 to 25 in Yaounde will book an automatic ticket represent Africa at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, France. 

Kenya beat Cameroon to secure the ticket to the 2020 Olympics and will be hoping to make a consecutive appearance at the Olympics.

Malkia Striker’s coach Paul Bitok believe his players’ current impressive form will make life difficult for their opponents in Yaounde.

The team that has been in France for the Challenger Cup flew to Velizy City in Cameroon on Friday for more preparation were scheduled to fly to Yaounde later yesterday afternoon.

“We shall continue with training in Yaounde before reporting to the venue of the tournament,” Bitok said.

However, despite Kenya beating Cameroon five times in the World Cup, World championship and Olympics qualifiers, Kenyan has failed three times in the Africa Cup of Nations the last being in 2021 in Rwanda,” said the coach.

“Since the Olympics qualifying will be based on ranking, the only chance for Malkia Strikers will squarely depend on this competition as we start the battle with 124 points against Cameroon’s 122.

“I believe my team is much stronger than before and we are ready to face our opponents. We have also strong countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria,Morocco, Senegal, Rwanda and Uganda fighting for the title,” said the coach, adding that his main focus is to win the Olympics ticket.

He said the team had impressive training program in Morocco and later in France.

“We have great players ready for the gigantic task ahead led by the two professional players Sharon Chepchumba and Veronia Adhiambo who have added more energy alongside other experienced players,” added the tactician.

Other experienced players in the squad are captain Mercy Moim, Trizah Atuka, Edith Wisa,  Rose Magoi, Leornida Kasaya, Lorine Chebet and libero Agripina Kundu.

New blood in the team include Emmaculate Nekesa, Belinda Barasa, Loice Simuyu, Juliana Namutira and Jemimah Siango.

Meanwhile, Egyptian volleyball is poised for a resurgence, thanks to the support of the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment programme which aims to empower national teams worldwide to achieve their full potential.

The FIVB is investing in a coach support project that will aim to see Egypt return to the top of world volleyball by developing talent with the help of Brazilian coaches Percy Oncken and Marco Antonio.

It has been eight years since Egypt last won a continental title in volleyball with their senior men’s team. Ten years of dominance between 2005 and 2015, where the Pharaohs won six African titles, have more recently been overshadowed by Tunisia, who have claimed gold in the past three editions.

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