NAIROBI, Kenya-Malkia Strikers head coach, Japheth Munala has urged his players not to rest on their laurels after being drawn in a daunting group for the forthcoming 2018 FIVB World Women’s Volleyball Championships set for Tokyo, Japan next September.
Nine-time African champions Kenya landed in Pool D where they will take on the might of world-beaters Serbia and Brazil as well as Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan.
Munala termed the draw as the proverbial Group of Death and warned his players not to relax as they head out for the festive season.
“It takes time and effort to build fitness. It is easier to maintain fitness than to start rebuilding it when it’s lost,” the Malkia coach advised as he targeted the scalp of Puerto Rico at the global showpiece at a minimum.
Malkia will be seeking retribution after Puerto Rico beat them in the 2016 Olympics qualifiers as well as Stage Two of the FIVB Grand Prix.
Munala called on the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) to organise high profile matches against global powerhouses such as USA, China, Japan, Brazil and North Korea to give his team the work out it needs to shine against the best.
“Malkia Strikers exposure and experience ahead of Japan. This can only be realised through better training and playing friendly games with top countries in the world.
“I can pledge it won’t be business as usual for the likes of Puerto Rico who might be having psychological advantage over us,” Munala emphasised.
The coach advised local clubs to commence training for the KVF League by January to help national team players build on their fitness ahead of the World Championships.
“Malkia will begin training in March. It is my wish to proceed for residential camp in time as we focus on the event,” Munala underscored.
Changes in call-ups
“I plan to make a few changes in the squad, with priority being a left attacker as this was our greatest weakness which saw us finish second to hosts Cameroon in the qualifiers.
“The national team call-up will also depend on the players fitness level and playing time, they are getting at their various clubs,” the coach underscored in insisting players who helped Kenya qualify for Japan by finishing second in the 2017 CAVB African Championships to Cameroon were not assured tickets to the World Championships.
His aim in Japan is to improve on their performance in 2010 where Kenya finished 21st.
Team captain, Mercy Moim, reiterated Munala’s sentiments saying Kenya is in a very tight group which needs focus to overcome.
“The rest of the teams in the pool are the top five in the world. Our target is to win two to three matches to be sure of the next stage.
“I urge fellow players to cultivate the spirit of self-belief. We can beat the sides if we are mentally prepared. The squad also needs proper motivation by KVF in terms of paying allowances promptly,” said Moim who will be in line to represent Kenya at the Worlds for the third time in a row.
FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship first round draw
Japan, Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, Cameroon, Mexico
China, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba
USA, Russia, Korea, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Trinidad and Tobago
Serbia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Kazakhstan, Kenya