Algeria will represent Africa at the men’s World Olympic qualifiers in May, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has said. This comes at a time when the Algerian women’s team has qualified for the Olympic Games slated for August in Beijing, China.
The Algerian women’s side ended Kenya’s dominance of African volleyball in January when they emerged winners of the African Zone Olympic qualifiers in Algiers.
It was a bad start of the year for the Kenyan women’s team which has represented Africa twice at the Olympics – Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.
The Kenyans failed to cope with the workload in Algiers as their preparations for the qualifiers were hampered by the post-poll violence. Given another chance to book the games ticket, via a straight fight against Peru, cash-strapped Kenya pulled out of the event.
For reasons that are not known immediately, Peru also withdrew.
The winner of the Kenya vs Peru match that was to be played on a home-and-away f ormat would have won a straight ticket to the Olympics.
In their absence, world volleyball governors picked Puerto Rico to fill the slot at the women’s games qualifier in Japan in May.
On their part the Algerian men’s squad, who finished runners up behind Egypt in the Africa zone men’s games qualifiers earlier this month, will join the nine teams that are still fighting for an Olympic slot. They are Argentina, Taiwan, Cuba, Indonesia, Italy, Poland, Puerto Rico and Spain. They will be entered in the draw billed for March 3 in Tokyo Japan.
The men’s Olympic qualifiers are slated for May in Germany, Japan and Portugal, with the event in Japan doubling as the Asian zonal Olympic qualifier. The winner of each qualifier will sail into the Olympics alongside the best Asian team, says the international federation.
FIVB says the picking of the teams for the games was based on their continental rankings. Eight men’s teams, including hosts China, have booked their tickets to Beijing.
The others are last November’s World Cup winners, Brazil, runners up Russia and Bulgaria who were third in the event. Others are Egypt, Venezuela, Serbia and USA – all winners in their respective confederations.
For the Kenyan women’s volleyball squad used to battling it out at the games, this time round they will be confined watching the extravaganza.