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Sri Lanka are no pushovers, insists coach

Dubai: Sri Lanka coach Kumara Wendakoon was in buoyant mood despite his side’s straight sets loss to Japan in their Pool E encounter at the 17th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship here on Monday.

The result may not have favoured the volleyball minnows, but they pushed mighty Japan all the way in the second set before eventually being edged out 25-23.

“We will never be pushovers for any team. I doubt any of them will take us for granted in the future,” Wendakoon said afterwards.

“There are three levels of teams in Asia and Sri Lanka has reached the second level in a short time. But now, just Asia will not do for us, we’ve got to make a global impact.

“We’ve moved up a level. In 2011 [Asian Championships in Tehran], we beat Indonesia and made the Super 8 stage. We now have to start winning against teams like Iran, China, Australia and Korea, and to achieve this our team needs to travel more and play against international sides such as Poland and Serbia and we will be ready.”

A player in junior and senior volleyball teams in the 1980s, Wendakoon has been at the core of turning the Sri Lankan team into a sturdy and well-knit unit.

In 2006, they won the silver medal in the South Asian Games, after which Wendakoon travelled to Europe to specialise in volleyball with a diploma in sports along with Level I, II and III coaching qualifications.

And in July this year Sri Lanka claimed third position behind India and Pakistan in the Asian qualifiers for the World Championships.