Can Chad secure the last spot for the AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers?
YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - Nine years after Chad's first and lone appearance in the FIBA AfroBasket, the Central Africans are hoping to renew ties with the continental jamboree.
Having fluffed their lines during the Pre-Qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea and Gabon early this year, the Chadians are now resolved on making amends at the three-nation FIBA AfroBasket Invitational Tournament in Yaounde, Cameroon on October 22-24.
With a revamped roster, "The Sao" as Chad's team are dubbed, are hoping to stun South Sudan and Cape Verde to clinch the last ticket to the Qualifiers of the FIBA AfroBasket 2021.
The winner of the tournament will complete Group E of the Qualifiers against Egypt, Morocco and Uganda.
"THE GOAL FOR US IS TO WIN THIS TOURNAMENT AND SAIL THROUGH TO THE QUALIFIERS."
Back In 2011 during Chad's maiden stint at the African basketball showpiece in Madagascar, Richard Moguena was an asset for his side, averaging 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Now aged 34, the former Africana star in Chad's elite basketball league hopes to bring his experience to the floor.
"The goal for us is to win this tournament and sail through to the Qualifiers," Moguena told FIBA.basketball adding, "We have the potential to overpower the other teams and that's what we are in Yaounde to do.
"For us the ambition is to be in Rwanda at the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 and we will do everything to be there.
"I feel healthy now and we have been training for a month with just one goal, winning our two games.
"Being one of the veterans of the team, I have to inspire the younger players and motivate them ahead of these two crucial games," he pointed out.
Moguena's wealth of experience could come in handy with Chad expected to field a rejuvenated squad in Yaounde.
Gninguengar Mandjita, a 19-year-old, is one of Chad's rookies who is hoping his fresh legs and exuberance can be crucial for his side.
"It's my first time playing in an international competition with Chad. Obviously there is some pressure as I've always waited for this moment,"Mandjita stated.
He continued: "I feel good and we've trained for some weeks now. The older players have been inspiring us but the entire group has a common ambition which is winning.
"There are some young players in the group and may be playing without fans could help ease the pressure especially amongst the other players who haven't been to this stage.
"If we stay focus we really don't have anything to worry about. Cape Verde and Chad are good teams but we know what we're capable of."
Chad's appearance at the invitational tournament has however been headlined by the absence of three of it's best players-Michael Koibe, Placide Nakidjim and Bienvenu Djimasal.
But veteran Richard Moguena is unbothered by their unavailability, stressing on the quality of players within the team for the Yaounde showdown.
"Michael, Placide and Bienvenu are very good players. Obviously we would have loved to have them in the team for this tournament," the forward mentioned.
"But even if they're not here, we have some really good players who can rise up to the occasion and deliver.
"The guys understand what is at stake and they too want to show that they deserve to be in the team."
Chad's quest for a spot in the qualifying round for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 begins on October 22 with a matchup against Cape Verde before a tussle with South Sudan on October 24.