NAIROBI, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Sudan and Ethiopia have withdrawn from the Africa Games Zone Five men's volleyball qualifiers, leaving five countries to battle it out for the single slot reserved for the region.
The week-long tournament, which starts on Monday, will see Kenya take on Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and defending champions Egypt.
Kenya failed to make the cut in the 2015 competition in Brazzaville, Congo, and head coach Moses Epoloto is hopeful his charges will weather the storm and claim the ticket in front of their home fans.
In 2011, Kenya finished third behind Egypt and Algeria. However, the country has failed to build on that performance and will start as underdogs despite having home advantage.
"Our focus is to win the ticket to Morocco for the Africa Games," said Epoloto on Friday in Nairobi. "We need to make a comeback or risk drifting into oblivion, which will be to the detriment of our players and the development of the sport. Egypt is a strong contender and despite the withdrawal of Sudan and Ethiopia, the tournament will still be a challenge and fireworks will be expected."
The Africa Games will be held in Rabat in Morocco in August.
At the same time, Kenya women's volleyball coach Shailen Ramdoo has recalled veteran attacker Praxides Agala to boost the team's chances ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations competition, which will be held in Cairo in June.
"We did a lot of consultation before we agreed to have her in the squad. She has attended her first training session and proved to be sharp," said Ramdoo, who was seconded to Kenya by global volleyball governing body FIVB last month.
Kenya will also face Italy, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament, which will be played in Italy from August 2 to 4.