Kenya women's volleyball team misses out on Africa title, turns focus to Olympics

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-15 19:38:24|Editor: Yurou
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NAIROBI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Kenya women's volleyball head coach Shaileen Ramdoo says he is taking positives from the African Women's Nations Championship in Cairo, despite his side losing 3-2 to Cameroon in the final.

Ramdoo said the competition gave him the chance to assess the team ahead of the upcoming Olympic qualifiers, Africa Games and World Cup, which Kenya will be involved in between July and September.

"It was the first tournament for me since my appointment in May. I have been able to gauge my players' progress before heading to Italy and Japan for the volleyball Olympics qualifiers and World Cup respectively," said Ramdoo on Monday.

Kenya will have limited time to reflect on their performance in Cairo as they are due to compete in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament in Italy next month.

Kenya will face Italy, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the qualifiers, which will be played between August 2 and 4.

Team captain Mercy Moim says the team is confident that their ambition to return to the Olympics for the first time since Athens 2004 will be fulfilled.

"The target was to get to the Africa Cup of Nations finals, which we did, but we failed in the final. We were ready for Cameroon, but we lacked in some areas when we were stretched to the limit. It was a tough game and we have used it to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers," she said.

However, coach Ramdoo still feels his side let him down, as he was not hugely impressed with the performance.

"The team needs to be very sharp, especially setters, and also in the middle. We need to be able to use all our 14 players and that calls for everybody to be ready for future competitions," Ramdoo said.

The coach added that the team must work on improving ball speed and court movement.

"The tempo, the movement and aggression in reception and defense were missing. We were a bit sluggish and it was not our usual tempo. We looked like we were playing a bit with a handbrake on and sometimes it was an issue of mentality, how you take the other team. We have to play our own game regardless of who we are facing," added the coach.

"We have a busy program and we need our best talent on show. Alongside the World Cup, we have to focus on Olympic qualification."

The Italy tournament in two weeks' time will be the first in the quest for an Olympic ticket. The six four-team round-robin women's pools will see the winners secure a ticket to join hosts Japan.

The qualification for the Tokyo Olympic women's volleyball tournament features 12 berths: hosts Japan, the winners of each of six intercontinental qualifying tournaments, and five continental qualification tournament champions.

The five continental qualifying competitions will start in January 2020.