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Malkia Strikers U23 ready for World Cup debut

Malkia Strikers Under-23 in a past match. PHOTO/Courtesy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5- The national women Under-23 volleyball team departs for Slovenia on Friday morning ahead of their maiden bow at the FIVB World Championship with the tournament serving off on Sunday in the capital city, Ljubljana.

Head coach Catherine Mabwi says the team has shaped up well for the showpiece especially as they head to the sunset days of a productive seven-day residential training camp in Nairobi.

Mabwi is conservative in her approach to the championship, pointing out her primary target will be to get off the groups, a feat she will view as an achievement on their debut.

“I think the girls are ready for the championship looking at how we have trained. For us, we are not going there to win the title. We have to be realistic. Our focus is performing well in our pool and look at getting to the next round,” the coach noted.

The same sentiments are shared by Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) vice chair Martin Makokha who has warned against placing too much expectation on the shoulders of the young girls.

“We expect that the team will be able to put in a good account of themselves. We do not want to put too much pressure on them expecting that they will win because it’s the first time they will be participating in the event,’’ Makokha said.

The team has engaged in three friendly matches in the duration of their training at Kasarani, playing against top senior clubs Kenya Pipeline, KCB and Nairobi Water.

The tactician notes the girls have shown remarkable improvement playing against established players and she notes the experience picked up will be vital as they land in the Scandinavian country, seeking to fly the country’s flag high.

Mabwi has named a strong squad of 12 which includes left attacker Yvonne Wavinya, middle blocker Ann Lowem, Yvonne Sinaida and Celestine Nyongesa, all who were part of the senior Malkia Strikers team during last month’s Africa Zone Five Championship in Nairobi.

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She is confident the experience picked up by the players having trained with the seniors will come in handy.

A total of 38 matches will be played over a period of eight days in the Slovenian capital with 12 teams set to participate, Kenya and Egypt representing Africa.

Kenya are placed in Group B alongside powerhouses Brazil, Bulgaria, Cuba, Japan and Turkey while Egypt are in Pool A with Argentina, China, Dominican Republic, hosts Slovania and Thailand.

The junior Malkia Strikers begin their campaign on Sunday against Brazil before playing Bulgaria on Monday and Turkey on Tuesday. They will wind up their group phase games on Thursday and Friday against Japan and Cuba respectively.

Malkia Strikers U23 Squad to Slovenia

Yvonne Wavinya, Anne Lowem,Veronica Tanui, Faith Imodia, Edinah Mwombe, Doreen Marani, Joan Ngeywo, Yvonne Sinaida, Shyrine Jepkemboi(captain), Beldine Akinyi, Carolyne Sirengo, Celestine Nyongesa.

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