No underrating as Malkia face Nigeria in Africa Champs quarters

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – Malkia Strikers skipper Mercy Moim says they will not underrate Nigeria as they face the West Africans in the quarter finals of the Africa Women’s Volleyball Nations Championships quarter finals in Yaounde, Cameroon, on Tuesday.

Malkia come into the quarters with an enviable unbeaten record, having won all five of their group stage matches, and only dropped a single set in a 3-1 victory over Morocco.

Moim says they have done their homework on Nigeria, and know it is a potential banana peel fixture.

“We have watched their videos and analysed and also watched their games. We also saw some of their players during the club championships. They have like three or four good players and we cannot underrate them. We need to ensure that we neutralize them for us to get into a good winning position,” Moim said as she previewed Tuesday evening’s duel.

Malkia Strikers players during a training session

The Luizomar de Moura-coached side finished top of Pool B after five wins against Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Morocco and Lesotho, and Morocco.

The Brazilian tactician also believes they stand up against a potentially tricky tie against the Nigerians who finished fourth in Pool A.

“As we face Nigeria in the quarters, we have been collecting their data and have studied their game. We have a strategy that we will share with the team before the match and I think they will respond well like they have in previous matches,” Luizomar said.

The Brazilian coach is happy to have a fully-fit squad with the return of Sharon Chepchumba who was sidelined at the initial stages of the championship with an ankle injury.

“Having all players available for selection is very important for us as it gives us the depth we need as the competition progresses. We are now able to make changes when needed, so her return was timely,” said Luizomar.

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Malkia Strikers coach Luizomar de Moura

The Brazilian coach is looking to guide Kenya to the African title they last won in 2015 when the competition was hosted in Nairobi. Malkia Strikers have lost the last three finals to arch-rivals Cameroon.

A win for Malkia Strikers in the quarters will pit them against the winner between hosts Cameroon and Morocco in the semis.

In addition to the African title Kenya is also chasing a record-extending fourth appearance at the Olympics, for an African team, and the second back-to-back slot to the global stage since qualifying for the Summer Games in 2000 and 2004.

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