Kenya women’s national volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, has jetted out of the country for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup tournament to be played between September 14 and September 29 in Japan.
The All Africa Games champions will face their USA counterparts in the tourney’s opener on September 14.
Ranked third in the world, USA won its second straight FIVB Volleyball Nations League title earlier this year in a thrilling five-set win over Brazil and later qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games by winning FIVB Tokyo Qualification Tournament Pool C.
They finished on the podium at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after defeating Netherlands 3-1 in the bronze-medal match, and they are the only country to have won medals in women’s indoor volleyball in each of the last three Olympic Games. They finished fifth in last year’s World Championship, but that does not scare their head coach Paul Bitok.
Speaking to Opera News from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport-en route Japan, Bitok expressed his confidence in the team promising Kenyans some good show at the global piece.
“I believe we have prepared well and ready to face our opponents at the World Cup. We worked on a few weak areas spotted during the Africa Games in Morocco with the aim of putting up a proper competition in Japan. I can therefore confidently say that we will not disappoint the country,” he said.
He has named a strong squad led by captain Mercy Moim and veteran setter Janet Wanja. The entire contingent comprises of 14 players and six officials.
Players include Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja, Agripina Kundu, Elizabeth Wanyama, Emmaculate Chemtai, Violet Makuto, Sharon Chepchumba, Leonida Kasaya, Noel Murambi, Mercy Moim, Edith Mukuvilani, Trizah Atuka, Carolyne Sirengo and Lorine Chebet.
Officials: Ismael Chege (Team Manager), Paul Bitok (Head Coach), Japheth Munala (1st Assistant Coach), Josp Barasa (2nd Assistant Coach), Charles Maina (Physiotherapist) and Shota Katagiri (Statistician).
After the World Cup assignment, the national team will play in African qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in January next year. Kenya has not qualified for the Olympic Games since 2004.