Dancing to gold? Kenya to face Cameroon in grudge final rematch
Gilbert Kiprotich in Rabat, Morocco
Revenge, they say, is a dish best served while cold. This statement will weigh heavily on the shoulders of the beautiful queens of Kenya, the Malkia Strikers when they tackle the energetic girls of Cameroon in a grudge final rematch here in Rabat, Morocco on Friday.
But anyway who says it must weigh heavily on them ?After all, it carries some significance, doesn’t it?
You see, on Wednesday night, the Kenyan queens, enjoying a new lease of life under the tutelage of top volleyball brain in Paul Bitok, put up a colossal display, and like their name projects, struck Nigeria like lightning, by straight sets — 25-21, 25-16, 25-11 — to book a slot in the African Games final.
In so doing, Malkia are also making up for the inabilities of the our perennial lame-duck national football team, Harambee Stars, who’ve been whipped by Nigeria’s football team, the Super Eagles, left, right and centre, in the past.
In cruising to the eagerly awaited finale, Malkia, boasting in its ranks Jane Wacu, Mercy Moim, not to forget the evergreen Janet Wanja, have a grudge date with Cameroonians who also powered to a similar win here, sinking home team Morocco 3-0( 25-16, 25-20, 25-10) in another semis clash to more than gladly set up the duel.
In the semi- final match held at the Salle Bouaazzaoui Indoor Arena in Salle, Kenya outclassed Nigeria in the first set before winning the second set, and finally thumping the West Africans in the third set.
This Friday meeting has all the hallmarks of a full blown out battle. The Kenyan girls will not only need to shed blood but sweat to the last drop, and scar their knees, if need be, to defend the flag.
Just two months ago, they (Cameroon), the emerging powerhouse of volleyball spoiled Kenya’s party in the Women’s African Nations Championship in Cairo, Egypt winning 3-2 to lift the title but this time round the odds are at 50-50.
Lest you forget, at this tourney in tranquil Morocco, Kenya has already had a round one victory, winning 3-1 at the preliminaries. It won’t count for the final but the girls, looking back at that contest, will be buoyed by the ability to humble the muscle Cameroonians. Confidence has to flow in their veins.
It will also be a repeat of the 2015 African Games finals held in Brazzaville, Congo where Kenya reigned supreme.
Head coach Paul Bitok has reiterated that his side is not going to take any chances with a focus firmly on retaining their gold.
“We do not have any other option other than to return home with the title. I am happy that my girls have adapted well to my tactics and we are going to plan adequately for the final irrespective of whoever we meet,” said Bitok.
What more, as a nation brimming with hope, we can only wish the girls well.
Additional reporting by Isaac Swila