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Kenya set sights on reaching second round

Kenya coach Hidehiro Irisawa is on home territory in Japan

Hamamatsu, Japan, October 27, 2010 – Kenya coach Hidehiro Irisawa said that it was not enough for his team just to make up the numbers at the FIVB Women’s World Championship.

This is Kenya's fifth World Championship in a row and their Japanese coach has set their sights on qualifying for the second round for the first time. Irisawa admitted they were "under pressure to achieve something positive", explaining that: "Before it was just an achievement for Kenya to be here but now we have to think to achieve something beyond that."

He added: "We have to work hard to overcome the usual pressure from the media in Kenya who want the team to perform well in this prestigious event."

Kenya will rely on the experience of middle blocker Brackcides Khadambi and opposite spiker Lydia Maiyo when they begin their 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship campaign against Brazil in their opening Pool B match in Hamamatsu on Friday. They will then face Puerto Rico, Italy, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

"I think I have to depend on the most experienced players in the squad who can make the difference, especially the middle blocker Brackcides Agala and the opposite spiker Lydia Maiyo," said the coach.

Irisawa took charge of Kenya's senior national team in May having worked previously with the juniors. It has not been plain sailing since, he explained, not least because of difficulties finding an indoor training venue while renovation work was being carried out on the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani.

"We had to also train with the Kenyan men's national team and play some friendly matches with them due to a lack of real preparation for the World Championship," Irisawa added. "These circumstances led me to have a two-week camp here Japan prior to the competition and I think it was a good chance for my girls to train with some Japanese teams and play friendlies as well as getting used to the time difference."
Kenya are considered one of the leaders in African women's Volleyball, qualifying for every FIVB World Championship since 1994. They have won the African Nations Championship a record six times, their last title coming in 2007.

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