National women’s volleyball team head coach Paul Bitok has said he is under no pressure ahead of the FIVB World Cup slated for September 14-29 in Japan, noting it will be an exposure competition for his youthful side Malkia Strikers.
The five-time African Games champions jet out this Wednesday ahead of the quadrennial event where they are pooled against top-ranked teams in the world, and Bitok concedes it be ‘difficult’ to match the global powerhouses.
The former Rwanda coach, instead, is planning to use the event to introduce the young blood in the squad to the global stage as he embarks on laying a formidable foundation barely a month after taking over from FIVB-seconded coach Shailene Ramdoo.
“It will be almost difficult to bring this title to Africa because the teams we are facing have invested heavily in the game for many years. We will try our best to win three matches as we look to improve from our last outing (2015) where we won only two matches,” told Bitok.
As an early leap into the future, fast-rising Sharon Chepchumba, Lorine Chebet and Pamela Chepkirui- who completed high school studies in 2017 will in Japan test the global stage for the first time.
In Japan, Kenya, United States, Argentina, Netherlands, Serbia and Brazil will play their matches in Hamamatsu while hosts Japan, Cameroon, Russia, South Korea and the Dominican Republic will be based in Yokohama.
Malkia Strikers will open their campaign on September 14 against United States in Hamamatsu, Japan in the tourney played in a round-robin format.
In the previous edition, also held in Japan in 2015, the East African queens finished 10th out of 13 teams winning against Algeria (3-0) and Peru (3-1).
Immediately after Japan outing, Bitok will train his guns to the African team’s qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in January next year.
Kenya has not qualified for the Olympic Games since 2004 and the former Rwanda tactician believes his arsenal will get good exposure in Japan ahead of the qualifiers where a single ticket for the continent is up for grabs.
“We are going to face the best teams in the world and this will be a good platform to prepare my team for the Olympics qualifiers. I will give every player a chance in Japan because we have over 10 matches to play there,” the towering Bitok averred.
The nine-time African Nations champions have been holding intensive residential training at the Kasarani Indoor Arena from last week, a few days after clinching their fifth African Games title following their pulsating 3-1 victory over Cameroon in the final in Morocco.
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