RWANDA’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2009 Fiba Africa Women basketball Championship were pegged back after being drawn in a tough group.
The biannual event, which draws Africa’s top teams, will be staged in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo from October 9 to 18.
The first-timers were drawn in Group B alongside defending champions Mali, two-time champions Nigeria, 2001 losing finalists Tunisia, 1983 winners Angola and Guinea while Group A pits record champions Senegal with South Africa, Cameroon, Mauritius, Mozambique and hosts Madagascar.
Unlike Rwanda, all the other teams have vast experience at this stage and national coach Veceskav Kavedzija admits that with only four progressing to the quarters, the team has to dig deep to make the cut.
“We are in a difficult group but our target has not changed. We are still looking to get to the quarter-finals,” the Croat said.
“All the other teams in the group are well vast with the competition which puts us on the back foot,” the 65-year-old tactician added.
On the contrary, the team captain Honoree Ayebare thinks that Rwanda’s wanting exposure could play in their favour.
“I know that most of the other teams in our group have a rich history in the tournament but these teams know nothing about us which could work in our favour,” she said.
The team will get a feel of what is expected in Madagascar when they play Cameroon this week.
The West Africans, who jetted in last evening, will test the team’s credentials in a series of friendly games starting this Thursday at Amahoro Indoor Stadium.
According to the draft schedule, on Thursday and Friday, games will start at 6pm while the Sunday tie will be played at 11pm.
Rwanda qualified for the championship after dethroning Kenya in the Zone 5 championships which were hosted in Kigali back in March.
Since the tournament inception back in 1966, Senegal has won nine titles;
Nigeria, DR.Congo and Egypt are level with two while Angola, Mali and Madagascar have one apiece.
Mali won the 2007 edition after beating Senegal 63-56 in the final.
2009 Fiba Africa Women basketball Championship
Senegal, Mozambique, Cameroon, South Africa,
Mauritius and Madagascar
Mali, Nigeria, Angola, Tunisia, Guinea and Rwanda