Bitok sets sights on top spot in Cameroon

Rwanda have stepped up preparations ahead of the decisive final qualifying round of this year’s FIVB World Championships due in Cameroon from February 12-18.
National team players celebrate after winning a point against Egypt in the Zone V World Cup qualifiers in November last year. Times Sport/Timothy Kisambira
National team players celebrate after winning a point against Egypt in the Zone V World Cup qualifiers in November last year. Times Sport/Timothy Kisambira

Rwanda have stepped up preparations ahead of the decisive final qualifying round of this year’s FIVB World Championships due in Cameroon from February 12-18.

The 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championships will be staged in Poland from August 30 through September 21.

And head coach Paul Bitok believes the national volleyball team has all it takes to land one of the three slots allocated to Africa.

For a country to qualify for the World Cup, it must top its respective final qualification round, with Rwanda in Group One alongside hosts Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria and Gabon.

Kenya and Tunisia will also host five-nation qualification tournaments each. Kenya are in the same group (two) as African champions Egypt, Botswana, Cape Verde and Zambia, while Tunisia’s group (three) also includes Seychelles, Congo Brazzaville, Niger and Senegal.

“We have had smooth training and everyone is in good condition, the players are responding well and we look a well organised side, said Bitok.

But he warned: “We will need to be at our very best in Cameroon if we are to qualify for the World Cup, but this team can pull off a surprise, I am positive about that.”

Africa is split into seven zones. Rwanda, Egypt and Kenya qualified for the final qualification phase as the best teams in Zone V last year.

Local volleyball federation officials have cast their support behind Bitok and his boys who they have tipped to make the nation proud at the final qualification phase.

"We want to provide everything possible for our team to qualify for the 2014 World Champions," FRVB technical director Christian Hatungimana told this paper recently.

The team will depart for Cameroon on February 11, with the final squad of 12 players expected to be named this Friday.

Rwanda concluded their international build-up matches on Monday, with a 3-1 win against Botswana at Amahoro indoor stadium in Kigali. That was the fourth consecutive victory over Botswana in less than two weeks, with the first two games taking place in Gaborone.

The senior men’s national team was due to play their Kenyan counterparts and a couple of Kenyan league clubs on its way to Cameroon but these friendly matches have since been cancelled.

As a result, coach Bitok has secured two friendly local matches – against newly formed Rayon Sports volleyball club on Friday and an All-Star side on Saturday – to help sharpen the team ahead of the qualifiers.

The team has been boosted with the arrival of Algeria-based duo of Christopher Mukunzi (El Fanar) and Lawrence Yakan Guma (ESS).

Provisional squad:

Provisional squad members include Yves Mutabazi, Bosco Mutabazi, Mutuyimana, Fabrice Nkezabahizi, Theodore Hyango, Bonny Mutabazi (APR), Herve Kagimbura, Peter Bigirimana,

William Mudahemuka, Flavien Ndamukunda and Pierre Kwizera Marshal (Inatek).

Others are: Vincent Dusabimana, Fred Musoni, Theogene Tuyishime and Nelson Murangwa (Rayon Sports), Thierry Mugabo (Nyanza), Cesar Rubayita (UBT) Olivier Ntagengwa (NUR) and Algeria-based duo Christophe Mukunzi (El Fanar) and Lawrence Yakan Guma (Etoile Sportif de Setif).

 

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