NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 – As the national women’s volleyball team sets sights on a return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 16 years, head coach Paul Bitok while naming a team of 14 that will do duty in the Africa Qualifiers, called on the squad to avoid complacency.
The Malkia Strikers will compete for the sole ticket available to Africa alongside perennial rivals Cameroon who will host the event, Egypt, Botswana and Nigeria from January 4-9 in Yaoundé.
With the team missing the crucial services of experienced players Triza Atuka who is recovering from injury and veteran setter Janet Wanja, Bitok will bank on skipper Mercy Moim and Violet Makuto to steer the African Queens to breaking the 16-year jinx.
Inspirational player Sharon Chepchumba beat an injury scare picked in training to make the team alongside seasoned setter Jane Wacu, Joy Lusenaka, Libero Agripina Kundu, Elizabeth Wanyama and Noel Murambi among others.
Those dropped are Pamela Masasai, Caroline Serengo, Linsey Jeruto and youngster Esther Mutinda.
“Alongside the technical bench, we have great confidence to face the host Cameroon, Egypt, Botswana and Nigeria. We further urge the nation to fully support us during the qualifiers considering that only one team shall represent the continent,” Bitok, who guided the team to winning gold at Africa Games, underscored.
He added; “I urge my team to avoid complacency as our opponents are heavily preparing for this sole ticket. Further, I urged players to fully cooperate as a team and with the technical bench. Teamwork and hard work shall see us through,” he urged.
The last time Kenya qualified for the Olympics were way back in 2004 at Sydney Games, where they finished 11th.
Malkia Strikers line-up;
Jane Wacu, Joy Lusenaka, Edith Mukuvilani, Gladys Ekaru, Joan Chelagat, Sharon Chepchumba, Emmaculate Chemtai, Violet Makuto, Noel Murambi, Leonida Kasay, Jemimah Siangu, Mercy Moim, Agripina Kundu, Elizabeth Wanyama.
Janet Wanja, Pamela Masasai, Caroline Serengo, Linsey Jeruto, Esther Mutinda.
Paul Bitok (Head Coach), Japheth Munala (Ass. Coach), Josp Barasa (Ass. Coach), Dr. Sarah Karongo (Team Doctor), (David Kilundu Team Manager), Shota Katagiri (statician)