NAIROBI, Kenya, November 11- Paul Bitok was left clutching at what might have been as another opportunity for his national women’s side to score victory in the ongoing FIVB World Cup went begging this morning in Okayama, Japan.
Kenya are firmly fixed on the bottom of the log with six loses from six matches played after the Dominican Republic inflicted a 3-1 reverse on Friday and time is running out for the African champions to deliver on their promised impression.
“In today’s match I think we had more chances to get more sets and have a better result, but we allowed the Dominican Republic to go ahead every time as their No. 18 (De La Cruz) had a good service and destroyed our play,” Bitok offered in the post-match press conference as he searched for answers.
That the Kenyans have talent has never been in doubt, dominating the continental scene for the past decade but at the international showpiece, the side always seems to choke and this is what successive coaches have failed to rid the team off.
In the third set of Friday’s match, the African queens got to their stride, demonstrating to the world what their game is all about although like they have done on many occasions, they almost undid the good work before sealing it 28-26 on tie break.
“We came back in the third set and started to fight, but then in the fourth set we made the same mistake and allowed them to go ahead again. In the first two sets, their No. 18 scored four points on her serve each time and we couldn’t receive well,” the coach rued.
In this World Cup alone, that was the second occasion Bitok had alluded to his team making errors that cost them victory after they also allowed South Korea, another tournament minnow to end their winless streak in their last second round fixture.
“We couldn’t recover four points against an experienced team like the Dominican Republic. We’ve really improved our service in this tournament and we try to attack to give us confidence because our reception is not so good,” the tactician offered what he considered to be the positives from yet another crushing defeat.
“Before, we used to panic against the big teams but now we have improved and we have more confidence playing experienced teams.”
His captain, Brackcides Khadambi who is attracting glances from professional teams in USA and Greece following the storming tournament she is having added, “It was a good match, but we started fighting late. But I think we played better today and the Dominican team played good.”
At the last World Cup, Kenya had taken two sets off the Dominicans and there were expectations before the game of a repeat performance or better but apart from the third set charge, that never came to be.
For the Dominicans, a second World Cup this campaign left them with something to hold on to.
“We’re very happy to get the three points from this victory; it’s very important for us. We played well in the first two sets; we were aggressive, with good serves and serves are one of the main qualities of our team.
“In the third set, our service and reception became poor, but we were able to come back in the fourth. Now we must think about our match tomorrow against Germany, which is going to be very tough as they are playing very well and are fresh from a runners-up performance at the European Championship,” their coach Marcos Kwiek said.
Argentina are next for the Kenyans on Saturday and with no respite from the South Americans expected, fellow Africans Algeria offer probably the last chance for the team to record only their second ever World Cup win since 1991 when they topped Egypt.