Malkia Strikers begin Olympics qualifier with Italy match today
Women’s volleyball national team, Malkia Strikers, start their campaign for a slot in the 2020 Olympics Games against hosts Italy in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifiers that serve off today in six different cities around the world.
Kenya landed Group F that has hosts Italy, Belgium and Netherlands in the group of 24 teams where the top sides in the six pools will qualify for the summer games in Tokyo with the rest set to go through the continental qualifiers for a chance to be in Japan.
The team is looking to be the first African side to appear three times in the women’s tournament at the Olympics. Their last outing was in 2004 where they finished joint-11th, similar to their first appearance in 2000.
At his disposal, coach Sharlene Ramdoo, will have liberos Aggripina Kundu and Elizabeth Wanyama, left attackers Leonida Kasaya, captain Mercy Moim, debutant Pamela Masaisai and Noel Murambi.
Triza Atuka, Gladys Ekaru, Emmaculate Chemtai and Lorine Chebet will do duty in the middle blocks while experienced duo Jane Wacu and Janet Wanja will be relied on as setters.
Sharon Chepchumba, a right attacker and left-handed Violet Makuto, who can play both as a right attacker and middle blocker, complete Malkia’s squad.
The team has an uphill task if they are to return to the Olympics after a 15-year absence as they are up against the world’s best teams with Italy ranked eighth, Netherlands seventh and Belgium 19th.
“This will be a tough assignment for the team but we are looking at it as preparations for the All Africa Games that follow almost immediately.
The Olympics slot still is a priority but we have the continental qualifiers where we can fight to qualify,” said team’s technical director David Lung’haho.