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Kenya eye top four group finish at World Championship in Japan

Malkia Strikers have intensified their training at Kasarani’s Indoor Arena, 10 days to their scheduled departure for Japan where they will hold a 10-day camp ahead of the 18th edition of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship that serves off on September 29.

Having been in training since June, coach Japheth Munala settled on his final squad of 14 three weeks ago, giving them enough time to prepare as a unit.

The technical bench has since been concentrating on friendly matches, first against the Under 20 team and this week against top local clubs as part of their build-up.

“We have played two friendly matches against Pipeline and Prisons and we have made plans to face KCB. Within the remaining days, we will also play against men’s teams just to build on how we handle pressure from tough teams.

The federation has also made plans for us to play four friendlies in Japan with host clubs since we will be there 10 days earlier to acclimatise,” said team manager David Lugh’aho.

Malkia are making a return to the World Championship, having missed the last showpiece held in 2014 in Italy, where Africa was represented by Cameroon and Tunisia. Kenya last featured in the 16th edition of the World Championship held in Japan in 2010 where they finished tied last after losing all five pool matches. They lost by straight sets to Brazil, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Italy and Czech Republic.

“Having named the final squad early enough, we feel we have had enough time to prepare. We know competition will be stiff but we are aiming at getting past the pool to the second round then work our way up from there,” added Lugh’aho.

Malkia are in Pool D that has Serbia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan. They face Kazakhstan on September 29 in their championship opener, a match that might determine Malkia’s placing in the group as the Asians are ranked lower than the other opponents in the pool.

Their subsequent matches will be against Serbia on September 30, Puerto Rico on October 1, Brazil two days later before closing group stage action  against Dominican Republic on October 4.

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