NAIROBI, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has ruled out foreign build-up matches for the national women's volleyball team ahead of their Olympic qualifiers in Yaounde, Cameroon from January 2 to 10.
Head coach Paul Bitok said the team will train locally for the tournament and only ends their 15-year hiatus from the Olympics will they plan to camp abroad and play some international friendlies.
A total of eight teams are expected to contest the women's qualifications, including hosts Cameroon, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, and Mauritius.
"There is something new with the Kenya team. The level of competition has gone up and we had our chances to play some top teams at the World Cup in Japan and the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament in August," said Bitok on Monday.
Bitok has named a 20-member team for training, before cutting it down to 12 who will travel to Yaounde after Christmas for the tournament.
Kenya featured at the Olympics back in 2004 in Athens, with Algeria securing the 2008 ticket in Beijing. Egypt made the cut for London 2012, while Cameroon represented Africa in 2016 Rio Olympics.
"Our national league has ended and now the players will have the chance to focus on the Olympic qualifiers. We report to residential training next week," Bitok added.
Veteran setters Jane Wacu and Janet Wanja have made the cut and will seek to serve as the steel around which the silk of upcoming players like Agripina Kundu, Lincy Jeruto and Elizabeth Wanyama will be wrapped.
Seven teams have already secured their tickets to the 2020 Olympic Games, including hosts Japan. Others are Brazil, China, Russia, the USA, Serbia and Italy. They will be joined by winners of the five continental qualification tournaments.