Losing three finals in a row: Kenya’s Malkia strikers face to face with Cameroon demons

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Losing three finals in a row: Kenya’s Malkia strikers face to face with Cameroon demons

The 2023 Women’s Africa Volleyball Championship has entered its semi-final stage with Kenya among the last four. Rwanda, Egypt, and hosts Cameroon are the other countries still in contention.

The biennial event which served off with 12 teams in two host venues of Yaounde on August 16 has narrowed down to just a quarter of that number with the winner expected on August 25.

Kenya beats Burkina Faso in their Pool B match at the Africa Nations Cup in Cameroon on Thursday, August 17, 2023. [Photo/Courtesy].

The winner of this continental showpiece underway in Yaounde secures Africa’s sole ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The slot is reserved for Africa’s highest-ranked team.

Malkia strikers under the tutelage of head coach Paul Bitok are out to snap up their 10th Africa Nations Women’s Volleyball title.

In Yaounde, Egypt and the hosts are the biggest hurdles that stand between Malkia Strikers and their dreams.

In Nairobi, however, the talk is about Cameroon. After Kenya lost back-to-back Africa Nations Cup finals to Cameroon, the hosts are seen by a majority of Kenyans as the biggest hurdle.

Volleyball Lionesses of Cameroon have in recent years made light work of Kenya’s Malkia Strikers on the continental scene. [Photo/Courtesy].

Malkia strikers renew rivalry with Cameroon

And as fate would have it, Malkia strikers need to beat Cameroon on Wednesday afternoon if they are to stand a chance of being in Paris in July 2024.

Bitok’s queens face the hosts in the semi-final of the Africa Nations Cup at the Palais de Sport Arena in Yaoundé.

Malkia who topped pool B beat Nigeria in straight sets to make it to the last four as Cameroon who came second in pool A behind Egypt saw off Morocco with a similar margin.

Malkia strikers defeated Nigeria in straight sets to set up a semi-final date with hosts and defending champions Cameroon. [Photo/Courtesy].

What awaits Kenya at the Palais de Sport Arena is a daunting task. Malkia strikers may have beaten Cameroon at the 2019 World Cup in Japan but things have not been rosy in recent years at the continental stage.

Cameroon who have beaten Kenya in the finals of the last three championships – 2017 in Yaoundé, 2019 in Cairo, and 2021 in Kigali.

Cameroon beat Kenya three sets to one in Kigali to win the 2021 Women’s Africa Volleyball Championship. [Photo/Courtesy].

For Malkia Strikers to be in Paris next summer they have to break the jinx against Cameroon. The opportunity has presented itself in the semi-final stage.

After that is achieved, the nation can now discuss how to beat either Rwanda or Egpyt and then book the Kenyan queens the earliest flight to Paris ready for the 2024 Olympics.

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