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FIVB Men's Olympic Games 2008

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Menís African Olympic Qualifications: Coaches of the participating teams insured the strong competition

The head coaches of the participating teams mentioned that the competition will be the strongest ever

Durban, South Africa February 2, 2008 - The drawing of lots of the Menís African Olympic Qualifications will feature a big face of in the first round as the two big favorites Egypt and Tunisia will meet in an early final in the competition second day after they were drawn in the same pool B with Morocco, Mozambique and Gabon, while pool A includes South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon Nigeria and Rwanda. The African qualification that will determine the African representative in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will start on Sunday with four matches as Nigeria meets Algeria in the match of spot light of the opening and the organizers South Africa meets Cameroon in pool A. Pool B comprises also two matches Gabon vs. Mozambique and Morocco vs. Tunisia.
Although Egypt that will be in a rest day in the opening of the ten nationsí tournament will lose their efficient setter Abdalla Abdelsalam who plays in Italy, they come as big favorites for the Olympic ticket with their experienced players like the team captain Hamdy El Safy and the strong right attacker Ahmed Salah. ďThis is the strongest ever Olympic qualifications because all the big forces are available like Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco and Cameroon,Ē said Egypt head coach Ahmed Zakaria who won two big titles in 2007, the African Nations Championship and the gold medal of All Africa Games. ďWe had a big problem in absence of our outstanding setter Abdalla but we put our trust in the other two setters Ashraf Aboul Hassan and Mohamed Mahdi. We started the preparation to this big event since we participated in the 2007 World Cup in Japan and finalized by 4 friendly matches against a team from Portugal and two against MoroccoĒ he added.
Under supervision of their new national head coach Kamel Rekaya, Tunisia wants to regain their international superiority and catch their second ticket in a raw in the Olympics after they represented Africa in the 2004 Athens. Tunisia will be without their historic spiker Noureddine Hafaedh but the squad includes many experienced players like the setter Ghazi Guidara, the strong left attacker Khalid Belaid and the centre Chaker Ghezal. Tunisia will also depend on the emerging stars like Hicham Kaabi, Ayman Ben Brik and Skander Ben Tara.
 Nigeria comes to the competition hoping to enter a new position at the continental level although their preparation was only local in Nigeria. ďWe had only local friendly matches which is usually not enough for such competitions but we will do our best to be in the Olympics,Ē said the Russian Head coach of Nigeria Sergey Ovechkin. 
 The Egyptian Head coach of South Africa Abdel Hamid El Wassimy is very optimistic about his team chances in the competition although he didnít have enough preparations for this big event. ďAfter we qualified to the semifinal of the last African Cup of Nations we need now to do well in this competition among all the big forces in the continent,Ē said Wassimy. ďWe are looking forwards to reach at least to the semifinal through our experienced players Naidoo Leslie and Adrian Strijdom. I think this competition may feature teams showing up other than the traditional forces as the big forces Egypt and Tunisia are coming from a very busy year in 2007Ē he concluded.
Morocco is participating in the competition with most of the new generation which won the Youth African Nations Championship in 2005. the preparation of the team came through three stages led by the head coach Iddrissi Alami. The first was in Portugal and included three matches, then the second stage in Morocco with participation in some local matches, then a final stage including 4 matches. ďI think Egypt and Tunisia will be the big favorites for the Olympic ticket.Ē Alami said. Morocco squad will include three professionals who are the French based Khalid Satour and Heshan Esseddyki and Zakaria Bairi who plays in Emirates.
 Mozambique wants to write their history with a locally prepared team. ďWe prepared in local camp for around 6 weeks after the local competition ended in DecemberĒ Mozambique head coach Angelo Lourenco said.
 Rwanda led by the French head coach Gerard Joualt wants to be the black horse of the competition using locally based players. The regularly participating team in the continental competitions will use most of the experienced players.
 The bronze medalists of the 2007 All Africa Games, Algeria wants to follow the footsteps of their women counterparts who already secured the Olympic berth last week in their homelands although they had many injuries including Gummadi and Hakemi.
 Cameroon that usually present between the final four in the continental competitions, has a collection of players in France, Algeria Tunisia, Japan and Egypt as well as 5 locally based players. The last African Nations Championship Bronze medalists will be one of the big favorites with their experienced spikers specially the French based.
 Gabon comes to the competition to gain experience between the big forces.
 The competition will be held in a round robin format between 5 teams in 2 pools where the first and second ranked team qualify to the semifinal which will be held in a knock out format and the winners will qualify to the final that will define the African representative in the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. 

Day one programme:
12:00 Gabon vs. Mozambique
14:00 Nigeria vs. Algeria
16:00 Morocco vs. Tunisia
19:30 South Africa vs. Cameroon



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