Malkia Strikers head coach Shaileen Ramdoo says the upcoming Inter Continental Olympics qualifiers will be a good test for his team ahead of the African Games.
Kenya, who qualified for the global tourney after finishing second in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, is placed in Group 'F' alongside hosts Italy, Belgium and Netherlands. Back-to-back African champions Cameroon are in Group 'D' where they will play Brazil, Dominican Republic and Azerbaijan.
The matches will be played in a round robin format with the six group winners landing a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Ramdoo believes that the competition, which serves off on August 2 in Catania, Italy, is a good opportunity to not only book an early ticket to the Olympics but also polish up for the African Games.
“We are not just going to participate but to compete. In modern volleyball, you have to play hard ball. Our opponents are not tougher than us, they are just more organised," Ramdoo told Nation Sport.
“It’s a high pressure level and that is the kind of exposure we want for the girls. We want to go there and win games so that we can improve the mental aspect of the team.”
The Italian coach reflected on their Cup of Nations campaign where they narrowly lost 3-2 to Cameroon in the final. He singled out reception as a point of concern as they gear up for the trip to Italy.
“There is a lot of work to do tactically and technically but so far so good. The pressure of the game revealed some unknown errors in reception and we are going to organise some drills in training to correct that."
“However, the players have to take responsibility, coaches can only contribute 50 per cent. The rest it’s up to the players to execute on the pitch,” observed Ramdoo.
The team is expected to report for residential training at Kasarani for a week before jetting out to Italy on July 30 for the FIVB organised tournament that will run from August 2-4.
Thereafter, they will travel to Morocco for the African Games, set to start on August 19, to defend their title.