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Road to AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers set to get underway
ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - The FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Pre-Qualifiers gets underway Tuesday January 14th across three African cities.
Ten teams divided into three groups will do battle for the right to secure three of the five tickets for the Qualifiers, whose first qualifying window starts next month.
From January 14-19, Nairobi will be home to Africa Zone 5 teams - Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya.
This is a special occasion for Kenyan basketball, who last played a home game back in 1993 as host of the FIBA African Championship.
And after claiming a second place at last year's inaugural FIBA AfroCan, team Morans couldn't feel more motivated than that.
Five nations one champion,who will emerge as the ultimate champ— Team Morans (@Teammorans) January 9, 2020
14th to 18th January come be a witness at nyayo stadium gymnasium
Come support the morans as we battle for a spot in the 2021 Afrobasket championship in kigali#moranstotheworld #fibaafrica#kenyabasketball pic.twitter.com/xEiXAKRhAk
Kenya Basketball Federation president Paul Otula is urging his fellow Kenyan to join the party. "Come and watch Kenya’s finest basketball players when Morans finally have a chance to play in front of you after a 27 year wait. I'm inviting everybody to come and cheer the team as they seek to win the pre-qualifiers for the single ticket for the qualifiers," he is quoted as saying to the local media.
As frontrunners in their group, Kenyan may face stiff competition from Somalia, a team with a history of giving the Morans some hard time in the past.
With a relatively modest record at major continental competitions, both Eritrea and Tanzania will try to prove doubters wrong and join the 20-team Second Round of the Qualifiers.
Malabo will host Zone 4 from January 14-19 with hosts Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Chad trying to grab the only spot on offer for the next round.
At first glance, Chad - the highest ranked team in the group - appear as favourite to move on, but things might turn sour due to the absence of their key players.
Without Michael Koibe, Asnal Noubaramadhi and Issa Nakoye - some of the most experienced players - Chad will need to make a number of adjustments to integrate their new players.
Is this a chance for Gabon to rejoin Africa' basket elite for the first time since 2015 or is Equatorial Guinea here to shock the African basketball fraternity? Let the battle begin.
Placide Nakidjim was huge for Chad 🇹🇩 during the #FIBAWC African Qualifiers: only player averaging a double-double (11.7 ppg, 12,3 rpg) & player with more blocks per game (2.3) 🔥🔥— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) December 13, 2017
📖 https://t.co/q1IYtr439q pic.twitter.com/nzGodblux6
But the good news for Chad is that Placide Nakidjim - who led all players in rebounding tin the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers - has joined the team from his Spain base.
Africa Zones 1 and 2 representatives Algeria and Cape Verde will trade blows in Algiers from Wednesday, January 15-16 with the winner advancing to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.
"We are going to give everything we have to win this two-game series. Algeria has the home-court advantage, but the team has been working hard over the course of the past few days, and we only think about moving to the next round," Cape Verde skipper Fidel Mendonca said to the local press.
Cape Verde v Algeria, August 2015, in Rades, Tunisia
Both Cape Verde and Algeria last featured at Africa's major tournament back in 2015 in Tunisia. At the time the islanders beat Algeria 78-69.
Some of Cape Verde foreign-based players are expected to join the team in Algiers.
Meanwhile the schedule for remaining two prequalifying tournaments from Zones 6 and 7 (Comoros, South Africa and Zimbabwe) and Zone 3 (Ghana, Liberia and Niger) are yet confirmed.
Click here to find out more about the FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers 2021 .