The intense rivalry between Kenya and Egypt is again expected to dominate the women’s volleyball African Zone V qualifiers for the World Championship in Nairobi.
Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni confirmed on Wednesday that the three-day tournament will serve off Friday at the 5,000-seater Moi International Sports Centre indoor gymnasium.
Hosts Kenya Uganda, Rwanda and Egypt will play each other in a round robin format where the top two sides will earn qualification to the women’s Africa Nations Championship in Cameroon in October.
Winners of the African event will then book their place in the World Championships.
And whilst competition from the vastly-improving Ugandan and Rwandan sides cannot be dismissed, it is the silky Egyptians, expected in Nairobi on Thursday afternoon, that are certain to push the Malkia Strikers all the way in their defence of the African title.
The Malkia Strikers are gunning to join their male counterparts who secured qualification to the Nations Cup earlier this week in Rwanda.
The Moses Epoloto-coached team defeated Rwanda and South Sudan in Kigali to earn their African berth.
“I have not detected any fear of Egypt here in camp,” Kenya Volleyball Federation’s technical director David Lung’aho said.
“Especially now that we have our best possible squad with us, the target is to win the qualifiers and head to Cameroon in search of a slot to the World Championship,” added Lung’aho.
The squad Lung’aho is referring to has captain Mercy Moim, who is one of the most experienced players in the set up, having recently had professional stints in Azerbaijan and Finland.
Others are Violet Makuto, Triza Atuka, Noel Murambi and Janet Wanja all of whom are attached to Kenya Volleyball Federation League champions Kenya Pipeline.
Three-time champions Egypt, who denied Kenya qualification to last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, are more than capable of causing harm.
Kenya have won the African title an unprecedented 10 times.
Noel Murambi, Edith Wisa, Leondia Kasaya, Triza Atuka, Violet Makuto, Janey Wanja, Agripina Kundu, Sinaida Yvonne, Beldine Akinyi, Celestine Nyongesa, Veronica Kilabat, Mercy Moim, Everlyne Makuto, Anne Lowem, Immaculate Chemtai, Jane Wacu, Edith Wisa, Yvonne Wavinya, Brackides Agala, Joy Luseneka, Shyrine Jepkemboi, Doreen Marani, Praxydes Simiyu, Nancy Mulonza. Management – Japheth Munala (head coach), Dorcas Ndasaba (deputy coach, Aisha Otieno (team manager)