Defending champions Kenya renew hostilities with arch-rivals Egypt Friday evening in the first semi-final of women's volleyball Africa Nations Championship at the Palais des Sports Indoor Arena in Yaoundé.
The other last four encounter will see hosts Cameroon battle much-improved Senegal as the competition reaches fever pitch.
At stake will be a place in Saturday’s final and the two slots reserved for Africa at the 2018 FIVB World Championship in Japan.
Focus will however be on Malkia Strikers’ clash with Egypt as the two nemesis renew their rivalry on the continental stage once again.
Kenya beat the North Africans 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-17) in the CAVB Zone V World Championships Qualifiers held in Nairobi in the teams’ most recent clash in August.
It was however the Egyptians who ousted Kenya from last year’s Rio Olympics qualifiers after defeating Malkia Strikers 3-2 in the semi-finals held in Yaoundé. Cameroon went on to beat Egypt in the final to qualify for the Olympics.
RECORD TITLE WINNERS
Kenya, who are chasing a record 10th title, have impressed so far in the competition topping Pool B with 4-0 ratio after wins against Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Japheth Munala-led side have not dropped a set and will be aiming to maintain the good form as they look to reach another final.
“This is where the real competition starts and we have got to be better as the opposition is also very formidable,” Munala told Nation Sport from Yaoundé on Thursday.
“We have a good record against Egypt but we are not taking any chances as we want to reach the final and win the title,” he added.
Centres Edith Wisa and Brackcides Agala have impressed so far in the competition and Munala, who is chasing his first title with the team, is hoping they will hit top form against Egypt.
Skipper Mercy Moim was the team’s top scorer in wins against Tunisia and DR Congo with setter Janet Wanja also influential in the team.
Three-time winners Egypt finished second in Pool A after losing 3-1 (20-25, 30-28, 25-17, 25-18) to Cameroon in their final preliminary match on Wednesday. The North Africans will bank on attacker Aya Elshamy, who scored 21 points against Cameroon, as they look to reach their first final since 2003.
In the second semi-final, Senegal, who finished second in Pool B, will be hoping to get the better of the hosts as they look to reach their first final.
Play off 5-8
Algeria v Nigeria
Tunisia v Botswana
Kenya v Egypt – 6pm
Cameroon v Senegal – 8pm