NAIROBI, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Eritrea will battle Kenya in the first match of the Zone Five FIBA Afro Basketball pre-qualifiers starting here on Tuesday.
Captain Griffin Ligare said the Kenyan team is under pressure to survive a challenge from Eritrea, and it would not be a walk in the park.
"The fans' expectations are high. It is not going to be an easy tournament. We will have to work extra hard to book the only ticket. That is the reality," Ligare said on Monday.
The five-team tournament, scheduled for January 14-18, features Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea and Kenya, with the winner advancing to the FIBA Afro Basketball qualifiers.
"If we qualify, we will meet African giants like Angola, Senegal and Mozambique (in the qualifiers). This will be a perfect opportunity for us to know if we are now ripe enough to take on the continent's best sides," Ligare added.
Head coach Cliff Owuor is upbeat that his side will weather the storm and win the tournament.
"The players are in good shape after two weeks of endurance training which left them physically fit and ready for battle," Owuor said.
Seven zones will play pre-qualifiers in January 2020 with the five group winners making it to the FIBA Afro Basketball 2021 in Rwanda, together with the 15 teams automatically qualified.
These 15 teams are Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda.