Malkia Juniors have a must-win fixture against Cameroon today at the ongoing Women’s U20 Africa championship, if their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 FIVB World Championships are to remain alive.
Paul Gitau’s charges lost 3-1 to Nigeria in their second match of the tournament, an encounter they had to win to seal a semi’s berth and have today’s match as the position decider. Instead, Malkia Juniors have to win today’s encounter by three straight sets. A 3-1 will mean scores are used to decide the second team if Nigeria win their match against Tanzania.
“I am gutted that we have lost this match and i take the blame. This was unexpected and the players pit themselves under alot of pressure and failed to communicate thus committed many mistakes and that cost us the match,” said coach Gitau.
With Nigeria posing a greater threat compared to their first opponents Tanzania, coach Gitau chose to start setter Emmaculate Misiko in place of Susan Megut. Mirriam Ngeywo and Lydia Emokol who had come on in the third set against Tanzania were also handed a starting berth. Gitau’s charges seemed unsettled as the match threw off, giving away easy points mostly due to poor communication. The first technical time-out came as Kenya trailed 8-3.
The home girls kept the crowd entertained, despite playing catch up to West Africans, with blow-by-blow attacks and by the second technical time-out (TT), they had assumed the lead with a 16-14 scoreline. They kept the lead to win set 25-19.
The first minutes of the second set was a pain to watch for the home fans as the home girls gifted the first five scores to Nigeria with poor service. The costly mistakes forced the home girls to play catch up again, taking the lead in the 12th point.
The Nigerians levelled at 14 but a briliant placing by Betty Sifuna and a successful block by Emokol gave Kenya a two-point lead to the second TT. A rechaged Nigeria recapture the lead at 19 points and extended the lead to 24. Kenya, in dramatic style, leveled the score but went on to lose 26-24.
The third set was a toe-to-toe affair with Kenya on the lead in the first and second TT’s at 8-5 and 16-15 but assumed the lead immediately to win 25-18 for a 2-1 lead.