Abuja, Nigeria, October 9, 2003 - Nineteen national men's and women's teams from across Africa will play off in the 8th All Africa Games running from October 11-18 in Abuja, Nigeria in the strongest edition in its history.
All the top teams in the continent are competing except for the Tunisian men's team, who are in deep preparation for next month's World Cup in Japan.
Ten teams - the champions of each of the African seven zones, the host country, the previous host country and the defending champions - will participate in the men's category and nine in the women's after the withdrawal of Senegal.
With volleyball heavyweights Tunisia absent in the men's competition, the silver and bronze medal winners at the last African Nations Championship in Cairo earlier this year, Egypt and Cameroon, will be favorites ahead of Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda and Seychelles.
In the women's competition anyone of the top four teams at the 2003 African Women's Nations Championship in Nairobi will fancy their chances. However, Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon and Algeria will still have be on their guard when they come up against the rest of the participating nations in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Mozambique and Seychelles.
The drawing of lots will be made on Friday with the men's competition split into two pools of five, while the women's teams will be divided into a group of five and another of four. Matches of each group will be in the form of round-robin to determine the first two teams in each pool, who will qualify for the semifinals.
The new Egyptian coach Veselin Vukovic from Serbia Montenegro, who led his country to the final of the 2003 World League, said with the absence of Tunisia the All African Games provides Egypt with a great chance to win gold and is excellent preparation for the 2003 World Cup in Japan in November.