Coaches expect big fight for medals at Women's African Nations Champs
While big contenders Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria have entered the competition with new-look teams featuring a majority of young players, hosts Kenya will depend on veteran players with strong international experience.
The coaches outline their objectives at a press conference held at the Sports View Hotel in Nairobi ahead of the start of the competition on Saturday.
Algeria coach Aimad Eddine Saidan: "We are optimistic that we can repeat the ‘golden generation’ of the previous team who won the gold in the African Nations Championship and All Africa games. We have a lot of young players who are capable of fighting for the medals here. We had a training camp August 26 to September 5 in Tikjda, which is a tourist area 120 km from the Capital Alger in Bouira Province, because it is around 1,480 meters above sea level and has similar conditions to Nairobi which is almost 1,800 meters above sea level. This team participated in this year's FIVB World Grand Prix, where they played 12 matches and I had to incorporate eight new players from the youth and junior teams, making a dramatic change in the ‘golden team.’ Although our results were very bad in the World Grand Prix, it was a chance for the new players to gain experience at the highest level.
Cameroon coach Eone Nane: "We are coming here to compete with the top teams in Africa. We started our preparations three months ago and in a local camp, followed by participation in the 2014 World Championship qualification in Gabon, where we won the gold medal of Sub-Zonal pool F. We changed the team a lot but this generation has a good future in African volleyball."
Egypt coach Hesham Badrawy: "There’s a big change in my line up for this competition. I selected four players from the youth under-18 team and five from the under-20s. Our objective here is to regain the gold medal after 10 years. Now we have good players in all positions who have international experience through participation in age-category world championships and can serve the national team for a long time."
Kenya coach David Lungaho: "We haven’t had enough preparation, but we have the advantage of team unity through having seven main players from Prisons and four from Pipelines who are the top teams in Kenya. My players are ready from their participation in the local league and we consider the competition as a good preparation for the Club World Championship in Switzerland where the seven players from Prisons will have good preparation to represent Africa.”
Senegal coach Amadou Sene: "We are coming here this time to compete for a medal. We had a training camp in Mimes, France, for a week early this month and we played some friendly matches which increased the teamwork between the local players and the foreign-based stars in the French and Algerian leagues. We want also to use the momentum of our good results in the 2014 FIVB World Championship in Dakar where we won the gold medal of the five-nation tournament ahead of Cape Verde, Guinea Conakry, Gambia and Sierra Leone. We started preparations three months ago in local camps for the home club players before having a collective training together with the foreign-based players two weeks ago.”
Tunisia coach Mohamed Messalmani: "We had a training camp in the Czech Republic to prepare for this competition, which helped the new collection of players to come together in unity. We also played five matches there to elevate the teamwork of the players. I postponed selection of the final squad until the last moment after the last training session to give all the players a full opportunity."