Pipeline out to re-capture Africa crown

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NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9- National titleholders Kenya Pipeline are out to recapture the continental title as Kenya hosts the Africa Women Volleyball Clubs Championships that kick-off on Thursday.

The hosts will be represented by three sides including two-time and reigning crown holders Kenya Prisons, past winners Pipeline as well as Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) with 13 other continental sides due in for the tournament.

Pipeline skipper Lydia Chege is looking forward to lead her colleagues in their quest to lift the title and claim the lone slot to represent the continent at the FIVB World Clubs Championships to be staged in Qatar in August.

“Traditionally we are always pooled with tough teams which in the end works to our advantage but we are determined to lift the title that narrowly slipped from us last year,” she declared

“A chance to take part in the World Cup will raise our profile as we will gain the exposure that comes with participation in such a major tournament,” added Chege.

The losing finalists head coach Japheth Munala is scheming the down fall of the reigning champions having bolstered his squad ahead of the tournament.

“This year Prisons will not find it a walk in the park, we will go down fighting since unlike last year, my players Rhoda Liali and Asha Makuto who missed out with injuries are now fully fit and back to the fold,” Munala charged.

“That doesn’t mean that we are underrating other teams given that we expect a tough challenge from North and West African clubs as we hope to avoid facing the Kenyan teams in the early stages,” he cautioned.

Coach Paul Gitau of KCB offered a realistic outlook for his side that is considered the least formidable among the local trio.

“I will not be expecting much from my team, since it’s still a young side that needs time to blend before they challenge the big guns in the continent but we will represent the country to the best of our ability

“We will be approaching each set at a time but hope to make a good account of ourselves by the end of the campaign,” the coach of the 2006 winners previously coached by Munala who finished 12th last year told.

Rwanda Revenue Authority are upbeat about the prospect of representing their country in the wake of the withdrawal of their local rivals APR.

“We are aware of the pressure that is with us as we are expected to make a mark and prove that we are among the teams to watch out for, but I assure you we are here to fight till the end,” their head coach Jean Luc Ndayikengurukiye said.

Several teams are already in the country with heavyweights Egypt and Tunisia missing out for the event to be hosted at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani and the Africa Nazarene University courts.

Local clubs are favourites based on their regular appearances in the finals and home advantage as they seek to defend the title.

Only Stellar from Ivory Coast were yet to arrive before the draw was made on Wednesday evening.

LINE-UP

Kenya Prisons, Pipeline, Kenya Commercial Bank (Kenya); Daring Club Motema Pembe and Canon Ndjini (DR Congo); Stef Auto (Madagascar); Chlef (Algeria); DGSP (Congo Brazaville); FAP (Cameroon); Rwanda Revenue Authority (Rwanda); Manga Sports and Varieties (Gabon); Nkumba University (Uganda); Water Sports (Ethiopia); Blue Eagles (Nigeria); Jeshi Stars (Tanzania) and Mafolofolo (Botswana).

Stellar (Ivory Coast) still being awaited.

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