Malkia Strikers coach Bitok warns players on Olympic Games slots
Edith Wisa (left} and Joy Luseneka at Kasarani Stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Malkia Strikers coach Paul Bitok has warned his team that they risk being dropped following the move to push back the Olympic Games by a year.

Bitok, who hopes to end Kenya’s jinx and secure a win at the Olympic Games, said one year is too long and a lot can change in terms of players’ fitness and performance. He has called for a systematic review of each player’s progress.

However, Kenya had already submitted a list of 20 players to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) before the Tokyo Games was pushed to next year.

Now Bitok said the players, who were omitted or left out for various reasons, have a reason to smile as they might live their Olympic dream if the IOC will agree to the changes.

“All plans had been made for the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus forced IOC to postpone it. Now we have some good players coming through the system either recovering from injury or having their games blossom,” Bitok said on Thursday.

“An example is Trizah Atuka was not in the squad which was to represent Kenya in Japan this year. She had a knee surgery and now her recovery is promising. Such players will change the complexion of my team next year,” he added.

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Kenya last competed at the Olympics back in 2004 in Athens, Greece. Since then, it has been a struggle as the country has evolved its squad for over a decade.

Now Bitok has brought a new sense of belonging and hunger in the playing unit as they seek to end their scour for a win at the Olympic stage.

“Kenya was in Sydney and Athens, but never won a single match. We have also played at World Cup and we are yet to beat a team outside Africa. That is going to change in Tokyo,” Bitok said.

However, with the country under partial lock down to help curb the coronavirus, Bitok has resolved to monitor his players training virtually.

“Each player sends in her workout in a video for review and we discuss it. What we are doing now is only keeping fit and ensuring we motivate each other. I’m also very concerned with the players’ diet because with women, checking weight is very important,” Bitok said.

Kenya is drawn in Pool A alongside world champion Serbia, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Brazil and hosts Japan.

“Our pool is a tough one. But at this level we are in right now, we must bring down at least one team in the group stages,” Bitok said. 

 

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