NAIROBI, May 18 — Giants Egypt and Tanzania have withdrawn from the Africa Games zone five women’s volleyball qualifiers, which start on Sunday in Kampala, Uganda.
Kenya left Saturday for Kampala beaming with confidence. It will be able to secure the sole zonal ticket to the Africa Games, which will be held in August in Rabat, Morocco. Only seven teams from each zone will join host Morocco in the finals.
“The team is strong and we are ready for any rival. But the withdrawal of Egypt is regrettable because we expected them to push us all through to the limit. However, we cannot afford to relax as the remaining teams are still a major force,” said Kenya deputy coach Japheth Munala on Saturday.
The withdrawal of the two leaves only four teams battling out for the ticket. They are zone champions Kenya, host Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Only the winner of the week-long tournament starting on Sunday will secure the ticket to Africa Games in Morocco. Kenya won gold beating Egypt in 2015 games in Brazzaville, Congo.
Kenya Volleyball Federation first vice chairman Charles Nyaberi warned the team against being complacent even without Egypt and Tanzania in the tournament.
“Yes, it might be a blessing in disguise since Egypt has always been a stumbling block but at the same time we would have loved to play against them and see how it goes but really it’s unfortunate that they won’t be part of the event,” said Nyaberi.
Kenya has signed Italian volleyball coach Shailene Ramdoo to direct the national women’s team ahead of the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament set for August in Italy.
Kenya will face Italy, who finished second at the world championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the qualifiers, which will be played in Italy on Aug. 2-4.
“The foreign coach will come help raise the level of competition and the game of our girls and increase our chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Waithaka Kioni KVF President.
While the North Africans dominate at Africa Championships, Cameroon are slowly but surely becoming a threat to national team status in Africa.
Cameroonians are on an upward trajectory across all categories and have denied Kenyans either qualification tickets to the Africa Cup, Olympics or the World Championships.