Volley: Olympic Games’ African qualifiers-Seychelles in action today


02-February-2012

Kelly Matombé and Terille Songoire will lead the Seychelles team in BlidaThe team are taking part in the three-day Olympic qualifying championship in Blida, Algeria alongside hosts Algeria, Egypt and Kenya.

With only four teams taking part in the qualifiers, the Confederation of Africa Volleyball (CAVB) has opted for a round-robin format of play with three matches to be played each day.

The championship winners will represent Africa in this year’s prestigious XXX Olympic Games in London, England from July 27 to August 12.

By the time of going to press, Sports Nation had not received any information about the team and the dates they are supposed to play. Seychelles Volleyball Federation chairman Jude Florentine also said he has not received any kind of communication from the team in Blida.

 Coached by Nichol Lesperance, the Seychelles team left for Blida on Monday. Their trip is being financed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under the Team Support Olympic Grant. This is the third and final portion of the US $60,000 grant.

The 12 players who have made the trip are Annarita Adelaide, Atila Bonnelame, Maya Biong, Sandra Joseph, Terille Songoire, Tania Solin, Petra Richard, Flora Lesperance, Kelly Matombé, Stephie Barbero, Geneviève Nicette and Nathalie Agnes.

Head coach Lesperance has for assistant Marie-Ange Bouchereau. Antoine Lafortune is the team manager and Derrick Sauzier, the medical officer. Official Michael Ah-Kong has also made the trip to Blida.

Kenya and Algeria, All-Africa Games gold medallists in 2007 and 2011, are the favourites to challenge for the only Olympic spot.

Coached by Gideon Chenje, Kenya are the reigning African champions and team captain Brackcedis Agala urged her teammates to work hard to finish top, adding that “the hosts (Algeria) are beatable.”

Kenya want to return back to the Olympics after they lost the African slot in Beijing 2008 to Algeria.

As for hosts Algeria, they held a two-week training camp in Turkey in preparation for the championship. While in Turkey, the team played four friendly matches and are ready to make a second appearance at the Olympic after their debut in Beijing in 2008.

Captained by Anissa Makhlouf, the Algerian side will have in their ranks Yasmine Oudna, Melinda Hinnawi Raissa and Lydia Oulmou who all play in France.

Algeria were also one of the African representatives at the 2011 Fédération internationale de volley-ball (FIVB) World Cup.

Meanwhile, Tunisia will represent Africa in the men’s tournament at the Olympics after winning all their four matches in the qualifiers played last month in Yaounde, Cameroon.

They beat Egypt 3-1 (25-23, 16-25, 29-27, 25-23), Ghana 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-21), Algeria 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-21), and hosts Cameroon 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21) in the championship played on a round-robin format.

With a win-loss ratio of 4-0 Tunisia topped the tournament followed by Egypt second (3-1), Cameroon third (2-2), Algeria fourth (1-3) and Ghana fifth (0-4).

 This will be Tunisia’s sixth trip to the Olympics after playing in Munich (Germany) in 1972, Los Angeles (United States of America) in 1984, Seoul (South Korea) in 1988, Atlanta (United States of America) in 1996 and Athens (Greece) in 2004.

“Now Tunisia is starting to build a new generation for the Olympic Games and the coming seasons as we had to get the benefit of developing a lot of youth and junior teams who won the African championships in the last few years,” said Tunisia coach Fethi Mkaouer  after his team’s success in Yaounde.

 “I think now we have to work harder to achieve good results in London,” he added.
Considered one of the top volleyball countries in Africa, Tunisia has a record of eight continental crowns.

G. G.

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