What you need to know:
- The competition which will be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Poland will be played in six cities across the two countries namely Arnhem, Rotterdam, Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Lodz, Gliwice and Gdańsk (Poland).
- Poland and Croatia will start off the action at 6pm local time before hosts Netherlands and Kenya face-off in their Pool ‘A’ opening match.
In Arnhem, Netherlands
The stage is set for the long-awaited FIVB World Championships that will start today here at the Gelredome Arena in Arnhem, Netherlands.
The competition which will be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Poland will be played in six cities across the two countries namely Arnhem, Rotterdam, Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Lodz, Gliwice and Gdańsk (Poland).
Poland and Croatia will start off the action at 6pm local time before hosts Netherlands and Kenya face-off in their Pool ‘A’ opening match.
According to Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) President Waithaka Kioni, who is in the Netherlands for the FIVB Congress, the match between Kenya and Netherlands always has a sentimental aspect.
“When we first met with the Netherlands team in 1998 World Championships, they donated one set of kits to us since ours were not of the required standard by FIVB. The girls used to train in those orange kits throughout the competition,” recalled Kioni of the first encounter between these two sides 24 years ago.
Netherlands won that match 3-0 (15-7,15-1,15-6) in Japan, but a lot has changed since then. The last meeting between these two sides was in 2019 where Netherlands won in straight-sets on both occasions.
First, they beat Kenya 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-10) in a Tokyo 2020 Olympic continental qualifier in Italy. Then they registered a 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-17) sweep at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup in Japan.
Over 30,000 fans are expected at the sold-out Gelredome Arena where Netherlands will be looking for a flying start to the World Championships.
Kenya start as the underdogs and coach Luizomar de Moura is happy to play the opener against a competitive Dutch side.
“It’s a really special moment for the team so I want Malkia Strikers to have fun and enjoy the match. Obviously we are going to push them to perform but we want them to enjoy it. Netherlands will be among the top teams in this competition so it’s important to have a good performance,” said Luizomar.
“The first two matches are important for us since we are playing high level teams which will help us study the team further and learn from our mistakes ahead of our key matches (against Cameroon and Puerto Rico).
Skipper Mercy Moim said the team are ready for the battle and will send a warning shot to their other Pool ‘A’ opponents.
“We are used to playing behind many fans so this will make us feel at home. We are ready and psyched up for the task ahead. Our fans should expect a good performance,” said Moim who will be relied upon for leadership and reception.
The Dutch, who will be out to improve on their fourth place finish in the previous edition, will be banking on outside hitter Anne Buijs, setters Laura Djikema and Britt Bongaerts as well as middle blocker Eline Timmerman.
Netherlands coach Avital Selinger said he will not underrate Kenya even as he aims to finish among the top teams in Pool A that also has European and VNL champions Italy, Belgium, Cameroon and Puerto Rico.
“I expect an interesting match since they’ve improved a lot under a good coach. We need to play well in every match in order to win. I expect my team to play the best volleyball since the result will only come from good play. They have to show enthusiasm, fighting spirit, great skills, physical ability, organisation and most importantly enjoy the game,” Selinger told Nation Sport.
The official opening ceremony was held on Thursday at the Market square in Apeldoorn with all FIVB National Federation presidents in attendance during the teams presentation.
FIVB President Ary Graca reserved special praise for Kenya during the ceremony for their remarkable improvement under the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment Programme.
Fixture (Kenyan time)
Poland v Croatia Pool B 7pm (Gelredome arena, Arnhem)
Netherlands v Kenya Pool A 9pm (Gelredome arena, Arnhem)