What you need to know:
- National men’s and women’s squads fly out to Morocco for second round of qualifiers
- Kenya women's coach Sammy Mulinge said the teams were the best ever assembled
- 36 nations to battle for the two African slots
Kenya men's and women's beach volleyball teams flew out of the country Friday for the second round of the Olympic Games qualifiers to be staged in Agadir, Morocco.
The event will be held from Monday to June 28.
The men’s qualifiers will involve 21 nations and the women’s 15, all fighting for the two slots available for Africa.
The overall captain of the two teams Ibrahim Oduor and James Mwaniki will spearhead the men's team alongside promising duo Enock Mogeni and Brian Melly. The women’s team has Gaudencia Makokha and Brackcides Agala, with Yvonne Wavinya and Phoscah Kasisi forming the second pair.
The four sets of players will battle for the top two slots for the final round of qualifiers that will be staged at the same venue.
Speaking Friday during the team's flag off at the KIVI hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya women's coach Sammy Mulinge said the teams were the best ever assembled.
Mulinge challenged the players to earn Kenya their maiden Olympics beach volleyball ticket.
"Time to train has never been enough, but with the two weeks we have had, the players have really improved and we are hopeful for a good show. Both pairs are strong in their own way and my hope is for the team to qualify for the final round and proceed to the Olympics,” said Mulinge, who doubles up as Kenya Ports Authority men's team.
Men's coach Patrick Owino remained positive saying anything was achievable.
"All pairs have been impressive in the training and I hope they will carry the same energy to the event. One thing for sure is that we are going for the top two slots. We have met all our competitors in various championships and we want to approach them differently," said Owino.
Nations in the men's qualifiers include Botswana, Gambia, Tunisia, Congo, Brazzaville, South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco and Tanzania.
Other country’s are Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritius, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo, Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Kenya qualified for the second round of qualifiers after finishing second behind Tanzania last year in Uganda.
The women’s qualifiers also has Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Ghana, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria and the hosts.
Team chef de mission Moses Mbuthia thanked sponsors who came on board to aid the preparation of the teams.
"We are indebted to the government, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K), Zoel Oil Company, and Kenchic among others.," said Mbuthia.