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Malkia Strikers, Starlets battle for SOYA crown

Malkia Strikers players celebrate scoring a point against Korea during the 2019 Women’s Volleyball World Cup in Osaka, Japan on September 27, 2019. PHOTO/FIVB

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26 – The national women volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, are among the five finalists who will be battling for the top prize during the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Gala set for Mombasa County on January 24.

The African volleyball queens will battle for the bragging rights to be named the 2019 Team of the Year in the women category alongside Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) basketball team and national women football team, the Harambee Starlets.

Women Premier League champions Vihiga Queens and national women sevens team Lionesses are also in contention for the award in the event that is sponsored by Safaricom with co-sponsorship from County Government of Mombasa, Kenya Pipeline, Communication Authority of Kenya, New KCC, Lapfund, Kenya Power, UBA Bank, Nairobi Bottlers, Kenya Ports Authority, NHIF, NSSF, Kenya Tourism Board and GOtv.

Malkia Strikers were nominated for the award after successfully defending the African Games title in Morocco by beating rivals Cameroon in the final to win the gold medal in September.

Malkia Strikers left attacker Sharon Chepchumba hits a missile as Cameroon’s Yolanda Juliana Amana and Stephanie Fotso attempt to block during their FIVB World Cup match in Japan on September 29, 2019. PHOTO/FIVB

They went into the final with a mission to beat the Central Africa country who had beaten them at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament which was played in Egypt in July.

Malkia were forced to settle for second place at the Africa Cup of Nations despite having gone through the group stages unbeaten.

After the African Games in Morocco, Malkia Strikers went to the World Cup in Japan where they faced stiff competition from other established teams. However, they still came back home from the global event having won one match as they once again beat rivals Cameroon.

On their art, KPA emerged second in the just concluded Zone V championship losing to JKL from Uganda.

They also KPA boasts of having seven players in the national team.

The Mombasa-based women also reached the final play-offs of the Kenya Basketball Federation Premier League where they played Equity Bank, losing 3-2 in the best of five series.

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Meanwhile Kenya Lionesses once again showed why they are a force to reckon with as they qualified for Olympics for the second year in a row. Lionesses also played at the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.

Kenya Lionesses’ Janet Okello sprays out a pass at the 2019 Dubai 7s invitational tournament. PHOTO/Courtesy

At the Hong Kong Sevens, the Felix Oloo-coached side reached the Cup semis after losing 17-5 to eventual winners Brazil.

They topped Pool B with victories over Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and Uganda and in the quarters they beat Argentina.

Harambee Starlets will however hope that their exploits at the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) where they won the Challenge Cup will give them mileage over the other four teams.

Apart from winning the regional tournament with an unbeaten record, Starlets also did not concede a single goal and also produced the top striker in the tournament in Jentrix Shikangwa.

Starlets also reached the penultimate round of the 2020 Olympics Qualifiers, but they eventually lost to Zambia in a two-legged tie.

The other football team who will be hoping it will be a good outing for football teams are Vihiga Queens.

The girls had a good outing in the Women Premier League, as they won the title by losing only one match and also drawing only once.

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