Nairobi, Kenya, January 8, 2003 - The biggest African women forces in Volleyball will start Thursday their fight for a place in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 through the African Olympic Qualification tournament hosted by Kenya in the big Kasarani Hall in the capital Nairobi.
The competition will be held in a round robin format between four teams; Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and Seychelles with the first day featuring two big clashes - Nigeria taking on Egypt and the Seychelles playing the hosts.
The fight for the Olympic ticket is expected to go down to the wire as all four teams have been the best in Africa in the last four years with Egypt, who represented the continent in the last two big competitions in the World Championship in Germany 2002 and the World Cup in Japan 2003 will be the biggest favorite of the lot. Egypt won the 2003 African Nations Championship beating Kenya in their homelands in the final and picked up the silver medal at the last All Africa Games while Egyptian coach Hesham Badrawy has selected all his experienced players, including the best African player of the last 10 years Tahany Tosson and clever setter Yosra Abdelkreem.
Kenya, second at the last African Nations' Championship and the bronze medalist at the All Africa Games, are optimistic of claiming an Olympic place, hoping to repeat their qualification performance for the 2002 World Championship. Head coach David Lingaho has selected his most experienced player in Violet Braza who plays in Romania along with some wise heads in Lucy Chege and Dorcas Ndasaba.
Nigeria, the gold medalist at the last All Africa Games on their home soil, are hoping to continue their top form after claiming their first ever title last year. Coach Oghuma Eghiemai will have to depend again on the mixture of some experienced players like Chinyere Onuoha and some young promising players like Lydia Ajik and Shelia Atheikame.
The Seychelles, who was very impressive in the last two African competitions, are competing for the first time for an Olympic place. Coach Bernard Denis who was appointed as the recent successor to Nicol Lesperance, will also rely on experienced players like team captain Jerina Bonne and libero Antoine Gilbert.