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Kenya ready for Kazakhstan challenge
as volley Worlds starts in Japan   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya women’s volleyball team will seek to improve on their previous dismal shows in the past five editions of the World Championship when they launch their title campaign on Saturday in Hamamatsu, Japan.

Head coach Japheth Munala has warned rival teams to rule out Kenya at their own peril as they eye to carve a niche in the competition in their sixth attempts. Kenya have only missed one edition, in 2014 in Italy, since they broke the duck in 1994.

However, in all the five previous competitions, Kenya went home in disappointment, something coach Munala is keen to turn around.

“We are after victory. Nobody enters a war to lose. It may not be the main title, but we will certainly progress to the next round and target a quarterfinal slot,” Munala said on Friday.

Kenya are in Pool D and will start their title hunt against Kazakhstan. Munala believes the two teams are level on experience and skills and a win will help inspire the team to go the extra mile.

Kenya are in the same pool with Serbia, the reigning European champions and silver medalists from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Serbia will be looking for their second World Championship medal as one of the big favorites in the pool, which also has South American powerhouse Brazil, bronze medalists from the previous World Championship. There are also Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan and Puerto Rico.

“We want to start with a win,” Munala said. “But each team is after a good start, but we have had a good training in Japan for the last one week and we will be ready for the test.”

Kenya’s last win on the global stage was in 2015 when they beat Peru to win the World Grand Prix group 3 title.

“We want to summon that spirit and put all the cards on the table. A good start is critical in the pursuit for the title,” Munala added.

Japan will play host to the world’s best 24 teams. Six different cities will host the tournament running from Saturday to October 20. As many as 103 matches, including the grand finale in Yokohama, will be on show.



Equity Bank team eyes gold medal at Africa Zone Five basketball tourney

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Equity Bank team hopes to improve on their silver medal as they face 29 teams from 11 countries that will compete in the Africa Zone Five basketball club championships in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania next month.

The tournament, which is open to top three teams from each of the 11 countries, will see men’s silver medalist Equity train their guns on clinching the gold medal.

The tournament drawing of lots will be done on Sunday ahead of the competition starting on Monday to Oct 7.

The top two teams will qualify to represent the Zone Five region at the Africa Cup competitions. Participating teams are from Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.

David Maina, Equity basketball team coach said they gained more experience and learnt from the mistakes they committed last year and will be presenting a stronger team in this year’s competition. Other Kenya teams are Kenya Ports Authority and Strathmore Blades.

“The team is ready and we leave on Sunday for Dar es Salaam. The target this time round is to win after our debut last year. We are more experienced and know how to tackle our opponents. I am certain Equity will win the tournament,” said Maina, Saturday in Nairobi.

Equity, which finished runners-up during last year’s tourney, and have showed their class dominating the Kenyan basketball league. Equity has only lost one match this season in the league.

Compatriots Kenya Ports Authority are the defending champion and will be hoping to retain the title they last won in Kampala, Uganda.

Strathmore Blades head coach Tony Ochieng said a top four finish will be a good achievement for the student side, who are debuting at the tournament.

“The competition is stiff, but we believe in our ability. The team has gone through training and is well prepared for the championship. We will take each match at a time as this is our first trip in this competition. We can reach the semis,” said Ochieng.

Blades coach will however miss the services of star players Brian Onyango, Cliff Alela and Mike Oketch.

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