NAIROBI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The 12 best African teams are ready for the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019 set to start on Saturday in Dakar, Senegal, which also serves as qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Teams in the showdown include hosts Senegal, reigning champions Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Angola, Egypt, Tunisia, Cape Verde as well as both Kenya and DR Congo, who qualified by virtue of wild card invitations.
Kenya has been pooled alongside Cape Verde and Mozambique in Group D.
Due to financial constraints, head coach Ronnie Owino was forced to drop Salma Akinyi, Becky Nkatha, Natalie Mwangale and Melissa Akinyi from the initial squad of 14 but remained upbeat the team will weather the storm and stake claim to the title and a ticket to Tokyo 2020.
Group C is arguably the so-called "Group of Death" as it comprises three former African champions Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali and Angola.
DRC head coach Papy Kiembe told FIBA they are destined to play the best and hope to win the continental title.
"We know this will be a tough event and it's important for us to finish in the top six that will permit us compete in the Olympic qualifying event. If we can enter the top six, then we will try to get to the final four. We want to have our best players with us as such we're flying to Dakar with 14 players and will drop two players there," Kiembe said.
The three teams have brought some of Africa's top performers to Dakar including Angola's duo of Italee Lucas and Nadir Manuel, and head coach Apolinario Paquete, who has established record for most wins (four) at FIBA Women's African Cup.
Mali will count on with the services of five-time Women's AfroBasket participant Meiya Tirera, Touty Gandega, Nassira Traore, Mariam Coulibaly, and more importantly, they kept head coach Sylvain Lautie from the 2017 African Championship.
The top six teams at this year's continental bonanza will compete at FIBA Africa's pre-qualifying tournament for the women's basketball competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.