Nairobi News

Sports

Bitok to lead Malkia Strikers at women’s volleyball World Cup


Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) president Waithaka Kioni has backed coach Paul Bitok to lead the national team at the 2019 FIVB Women World Cup.

Kenya will alongside Cameroon represent Africa at the tournament in Japan between September 14-29.

Kioni has explained that Bitok’s heroics at the 2019 African Games is what has informed the federation’s decision to let him undertake the crucial assignment.

“The federation will not fix what is not broken. Bitok will continue and we are hopeful of a good performance in Japan, even though our main aim is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Japan,” said Kioni.

Bitok, a former international player, took over the team less than a week to the start of the African Games in Rabat following the sudden departure of Shaileen Ramdoo under controversial circumstances.

Bitok’s tenure at the helm was dependent on how the side fared in Morocco and he didn’t disappoint.

He led Kenya to retain gold at the continental championship after wins over Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon (twice), including a thrilling 3-1 (12-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-21) victory in the final.

These results elicited excitement among Kenyans and a congratulatory note from President Uhuru Kenyatta.

BIGGER CHALLENGE

“We all saw how our volleyball queens put up a spirited fight to win Gold last (Friday) night. They fought hard against a tough Cameroonian team to retain their title as African champions,” said President Kenyatta.

The Women’s World Cup will offer Bitok with a bigger challenge considering Malkia Strikers average returns in international matches in the past two decades.

Argentina, Canada, Korea, Serbia, Iran, Australia, China, Netherlands, Tunisia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Japan, Poland, USA, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya and Russia will compete in the tournament.

Fukuoka, Osaka, Hamamatsu, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Toyama, Nagano and Yokohama are the host cities for the tournament.

Kenya finished tenth, ahead of Algeria and Peru, out of 12 competing teams during the last women’s volleyball World Cup in Japan four years ago.