Munala: Malkia Strikers ready for tough task at Paris Olympics

Kenya National volleyball team, Malkia strikers take on Egypt during their African Nations Championship match at the Palais polyvalent des sports Paposy Arena in Yaounde, Cameroon on August 24, 2023. Kenya won with a three-set (25-22, 25-20, 25-14). [KVF Media, Standard]

Kenya national women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers head coach Japheth Munala has his work cut out as he prepares his charges for the Paris Olympics.

The Kenyan girls who return to the global event for a second time in a row will be looking to improve on their performance in the Tokyo Olympics that saw them lose all matches in the group stage.

With the pools out and a new format of play, Munala now has a clear picture of the tough task ahead.

“It will be my first time at the Olympics but only Poland is new to me. We are in a very tough group but they all are and we must now intensify our training,” Munala said.

Munala added that his focus is now on his Group B opponents as he looks to analyse and understand their game.

“We want to look at each team and do a critical analysis of their game, once we understand how they play then we will train based on our findings because we don’t want to be caught flat footed.”

He added that Kenya has been improving gradually and he expects them to continue improving.

“We look to play better than before because the team has steadily improved over the years, the girls have come from a place where they used to be totally outclassed by opponents to making a good account themselves and I believe that they will make a mark in Paris,” Munala said.   

Malkia Strikers' Coach Japheth Munala during the Unveiling of the Malkia Strikers team ahead of the 2024 CAVB Zone 5 African Games Qualifiers at the Nyayo National Stadium, Gymnasium on Monday Jan 22, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya will field fairly new faces in Paris with vice-captain and middle blocker Edith Wisah, opposite hitter Sharon Chepchumba among the players who will return to the Olympics.

Wisah said that their aim is to leave a mark.

“It’s a tough pool but we expected that given that it’s the Olympics and only the best achieve that feat. We just have to give our best and train hard for impressive results. As Kenya we are going to make an impact in Paris,” Wisah said.

Though coach Munala is currently working with a provisional squad of 19, left attacker Leonida Kasaya, middle blocker Lorine Chebet and libero Agripna Kundu are the other players from the 2020 Tokyo Olympicsd squad that are eyeing a return to the Olympics.

Kenya Volleyball Federation league Most Valuable Player Juliana Namutira, fast rising setters Esther Mutinda and Emmaculate Nekesa, outside hitter Mariam Musa and Meldine Sande are also likely to make their Olympic debuts.

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