What you need to know:
- Egypt setter Youssef Hossam headlined the tournament’s Dream Team after being named Best Setter and Most Valuable Player. He was joined by teammates Mohamed Asran (second best outside hitter) and Abdelrahman Seoudy (second best middle blocker).
- Libya’s Ahmed Ikhbayri emerged best opposite while Cameroon’s Dolgeombai Sem was the best middle blocker. Algeria’s pair of Ilyas Achouri (best libero) and Soufiane Hosni (best outside hitter) completed the dream team.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man!
Legendary Egypt captain Ahmed Salah stepped off the bench to inspire Egypt to a 3-1 (25-22,25-18,20-25,25-22) win over Algeria as the African Nations Championship ended here on Wednesday night.
Victory saw the Pharaohs win their ninth African title and end an eight-year title drought having last won here in 2015.
Salah came off the bench to provide three crucial points that helped Egypt win the decisive fourth set and avoid the tie-breaker in the final played at a packed Cairo International Stadium.
Paris Olympics slot
Having reclaimed Egypt’s status as an African volleyball powerhouse, Italian coach Flavio Gulinelli is keen on guiding them back to the Olympic Games when he takes charge of the team at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics qualification tournament set for September 30 to October 8.
Egypt and Tunisia are in Pool B of the Paris 2024 qualifiers alongside Finland, Japan, Slovenia, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey and USA. The top two teams in Pool B, which will be played in Tokyo, Japan, will automatically qualify for Paris 2024.
Africa will be represented by the top ranked nation in the FIVB ranking by June 2024 in line with the universality principle. Egypt are ranked 19th on FIVB rankings while Tunisia are one position higher heading to the Tokyo tournament.
“The level of this tournament is above us but if we play without pressure, I am confident we can do something good there. We have what it takes to gain many points and qualify for Paris,” said Gulinelli who qualified Egypt for Rio 2016 Olympics.
“We have to appreciate the fact that the level of African volleyball is really high. We have played tough matches throughout this tournament and there was no point where we expected an easy game.
“There has been tremendous growth in Africa and this tournament needs the attention of the entire world because good volleyball has been displayed here for the last two weeks,” underlined Gulinelli.
'Africa is the future'
His sentiments were echoed by compatriot Antonio Giacobbe whose Tunisia team was knocked out in the quarter-finals after losing 3-1 to Cameroon.
Ultimately, the record African champions settled fifth but Giacobbe agreed with Gulinelli that Africa is on the rise.
“Most of the top teams have only lost one match in this tournament. It’s unfortunate that our loss came against Cameroon in the quarter-finals and we were knocked out.
“I think Africa is the future. The players here have good physique, strong and have the qualities to play high level volleyball as we have seen in this tournament. The only thing lacking is the money to create this conducive environment for these talents to thrive,” noted Giacobbe.
Wafalme Stars coach Gideon Tarus, who guided Kenya to a ninth-place finish once again, also spoke in the same breath saying the difference between the top teams and others is the quality of preparations.
“There is no small team in Africa because if you look at the points some of the so-called small teams are getting against top teams it’s just a small difference. The only thing we are lacking is good preparations because we are coming into the competition without playing friendly matches which are very important,” said Tarus.
Surprise package Libya side swept aside Cameroon 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-15) on Wednesday to claim bronze.
The crucial win saw Libya join Egypt and Algeria as Africa's representatives at the FIVB World Championships set for 2025, only for the second time in history. The last time Libya played at the World Championships was in 1982 after finishing second in the 1979 continental tournament held in Tripoli to qualify.
Egypt setter Youssef Hossam headlined the tournament’s Dream Team after being named Best Setter and Most Valuable Player. He was joined by teammates Mohamed Asran (second best outside hitter) and Abdelrahman Seoudy (second best middle blocker).
Libya’s Ahmed Ikhbayri emerged best opposite while Cameroon’s Dolgeombai Sem was the best middle blocker. Algeria’s pair of Ilyas Achouri (best libero) and Soufiane Hosni (best outside hitter) completed the dream team.