Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 1 2003 - The 14th African Nations Championship opened with a flourish with hosts Egypt defeating Tunisia 3-1 in Group A while RD Congo defeated Rwanda also 3-1 in the same group.
Meanwhile in Group B Algeria and Cameroon both had straight sets victories over South Africa and Morocco respectively.
Dr Amr Elwani CAVB President and Talaat Guineedy the head of sports department in the Egyptian Ministry of Youth opened the championship in presence of a large number of spectators.
RD Congo, a late entry to the championship deployed good defense and a solid block to lead Rwanda 25-20 in the first set. Rwanda fought back valiantly in the second, producing the most exciting phase of the match and leveled at 1-set all after 27-25. Congo however regained their rhythm to go on to win the next two sets in relative comfort at 25-17 and 25-22.
In the second match Cameroon team was good enough to defeat Morocco 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-20) in only 74 minutes. Cameroon led in the first set, with string attacks from spiker Nanga Guy, well supported by the blocking of Nziemi Jean and sealed the set 25-19 in 26 minutes. In the second set Morocco began better for a good performance by Said Rhoudou in both spiking and attacking skills, but again Cameroon overwhelmed them, winning 25-14 in 23 minutes. Morocco was more effective in the third set with improved digging and reception, but it was not enough to counter the excellent services of Ndaki Mboulet and good spiking of Libom Serge, allowing a 25-20 result for Cameroon in their final set.
In the third match just 69 minutes were enough for Algeria, one of the favorites to win the cup, to take over the South African team in straight sets 27-25,25-23 and 25-18. The first set was the most exciting as South Africa key player Guershon Rorich spiked efficiently to put his team in the lead before Kerboula Ali, the Algerian team superstar turned up the heat and was instrumental in Algeria taking the set 27-25. In the second set Algerian spiker Bernaoui Krimo combined well with his setter Rabia Kamel to run up a lead, well supported by the efficient block of Hachemi Mehdi. The set ended in favor of Algeria 25-23 in 20 minutes. They then went on to allow the opposition just 18 points in the final set.
Egypt had a strong start to the tournament with their first win over Tunisia in 10 years, finishing with 3-1 (26-24, 25-22,19-25, 28-26) in a match that was a real crowd pleaser on the opening day.
It took 101 minutes for hosts Egypt to conquer the team which holds an enviable record of having won seven from 11 African Nations Championships
Egyptian coach Abdel-Hamid Elwassimy chose Tunisia for the opening match saying he preferred an early tough encounter which would, if successful give his team a strong psychological boost.
Egypt began strongly and led at 8-6, largely due to the efficient spiking of their Hamdy El-Safi. Tunisia's attacker Noureddine Hfaiedh helped get them back in the game in the closing minutes of the first set, but it eventually fell to Egypt 26-24. the second set was easier for Egypt with good performances by Islam Awad and El-Safi and the efficient block of Ayman Roshdy, allowing them a 25-22 victory.
Tunisia led in the early part of the third, well supported by setter Ghazi Guidara and spikes of Hosni Karamosly and went on to draw back one set , finishing 25-19. Egypt produced a crowd thrilling fourth set to finish 28-26 after fending off two set points by Tunisia.