Absent Wanja dropped from Malkia Strikers squad
Long-serving national women’s volleyball team setter Janet Wanja has been dropped from the squad currently in residential training at the Kasarani Indoor Arena ahead of the African Olympic qualifiers after her no-show in camp for over two weeks.
Malkia Strikers head coach Paul Bitok last week read the riot act to the Kenya Pipeline star and fellow setters Jane Wacu and fast-rising Esther Mutinda, for going AWOL . However, after the warning, Wacu and Mutinda reported to Kasarani last week bar Wanja forcing Bitok to drop her.
In a statement released Monday, the Malkia Strikers gaffer said the volleyball queen who is arguably the most seasoned player in the camp alongside fellow setter Wacu, will not be travelling to Cameroon for the January 2-6 event due to ‘personal commitments’.
“As coach of national team, due to recent communication with one of my critical players, I would like to announce that the team will miss the services of our vastly experienced and veteran setter Janet Wanja due to personal commitments. The team and I are very thankful for Wanjas services all through. Coupled with her experience she is always very committed, smart and a natural leader, ” read part of the statement.
In August, Bitok hinted discussions were in the offing to have the 35-year old star bring down the curtains on her career after a decorated stint spanning 18-years, to join him in the technical bench as he eyes to build a formidable foundation with Malkia, a nine-time African champion.
In Wanja’s absence , Bitok will rely on Wacu, Mutinda and Kenya Prisons’ Joy Luseneka for the position during the week-long qualifiers where a sole ticket is up for grabs for the African teams.
“As contingency Wacu, Esther and Joy who play in a similar position will be mooted to fill her shoes for this upcoming qualifiers.I have a lot of confidence that the players and rest of the team will put essential effort while Wanja is away.I further urge KVF to register youth and junior players for future CAVB/FIVB competition as this will allow for smooth transition and succession of senior team players,” added Bitok.
The Mukumu Girls alumnus started her international career during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and in the decorated career, she has won five Africa Nations Championships, three All African Games and World Grand Prix title in 2015, a first for an Africa team, and six appearances at the World Championships with Malkia Strikers.
In Cameroon, Malkia Strikers will eyeing a Olympics return after a 15-year drought, with their last outing dating back to 2004 where they finished at position 11, similar to the previous and first outing in 2000.
The nine-time Africa champions are penciled to face off with hosts Cameroon, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Botswana, Rwanda, and Mauritius for the one slot reserved for Africa.