Kenya: Why Beating Senegal Is a Routine Job for Kenya

Kenyan volleyball and Kenyan football are as similar as cheese is to chalk.

While Kenyan volleyball has had unparalleled success in Africa, Kenyan football has recorded one failure after another despite enjoying comparatively much better funding.

National football team Harambee Stars were bundled out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at the group stages and suffered a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Senegal at 30 June Stadium in New Cairo.

Meanwhile, national women's volleyball team Malkia Strikers were through to the final of the 2019 Women African Volleyball Nations Championship that was due Sunday night against Cameroon after thumping Senegal 3-0 in the semi-finals on Saturday night at 6 October Hall in Giza, Cairo.

Kenya made short work of the Senegalese in straight sets of 25-13, 25-13, 25-20. But any talk of revenge, a word that was abuzz on social media in as far as Kenyans were concerned, was not in the minds of the Kenyan girls.

"Revenge is what fans were talking about not us. This is volleyball, not football. For us it was about winning the game. That was what was on our minds," said Kenya captain Mercy Moim at the team base at the expansive Cataract Pyramids Resorts Hotel in Giza, Cairo.

"We have played Senegal before. We knew it was not going to be an easy game as they have good height. We served tactically and shut down their main players," she said.

"Football and volleyball are two different sports. The girls are professionals and were playing for themselves, for the win," said Kenya Volleyball Federation technical director, David Lungaho, who is managing the team here in Cairo.

He added: "We have shown that we, together with Cameroon, whom we meet in the final, are the two top ranked teams in Africa. We are playing to earn points for world rankings. We will do our bit and try to go all the way."

While Harambee Stars, that got close to Sh250 million public funding for the 2019 Afcon, have never beaten Teranga Lions in a competitive football match, record nine-time African champions Malkia Strikers, who received no single penny from the government for their campaign in Egypt, have never lost even a volleyball set to the west Africa nation at this level.

Moim lamented the lack of government support for the achieving Malkia Strikers.

"We trained at Kasarani where the Kenya football team was also training but never got any visit from a government official. It is the volleyball federation that has been trying hard to maintain us.

"We were not handed the national flag before we travelled here. We do not even have adequate kit yet we are representing the nation. People here in Cairo are seeing as winning, smiling and celebrating but they do not know that things are tough for us. We have only one kit. The jersey I am wearing now I will have to wash it so that I wear it again tomorrow."

"We play because we love the game and we love our country."

Continued an emotional Moim: "Here we are in the final and I am sure no one will come while so many Kenyans travelled to watch Kenya play Tanzania in the Afcon group stage. But we are used to this. We love volleyball and will continue using our talent to serve out country."

The 2019 Women's African Volleyball Nations Championship involved seven countries and was played over five days.

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