The Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVF) announced on Friday that the country’s male and female volleyball teams had secured qualification for the 13th edition of the Ghana 2024 African Games.
Martin Melandi, the federation’s Technical Director, disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
He explained that the teams gained automatic qualification due to Benin Republic’s failure to honour their match commitments. Benin Republic cited financial constraints preventing their teams from travelling.
“In Zone Three for West Africa, we were slated to compete against the Benin Republic. They confirmed their participation initially but withdrew at the last minute,” Melandi stated.
He continued, “Ali Yaro, the Zonal President of West Africa, has notified the Confederation of African Volleyball that Nigeria’s volleyball teams have qualified automatically. Hence, we arranged exhibition matches for them against selected Lagos players. These matches marked their first games since entering the camp, and I believe subsequent friendly matches will enhance their performance.”
The men’s team, led by Moses Gana, secured a 3-0 victory against the Lagos State selected volleyball team in a best-of-three game, achieving scores of 30-28, 25-21, 25-22.
Gana expressed confidence in the team’s abilities and anticipated tougher matches in the future. As the team’s captain, he felt no pressure, emphasizing his prior experience captaining local and U-21 national teams.
Meanwhile, preparations for the 2024 Ghana Africa Games are ongoing, scheduled to commence from March 8 to March 23. The games will be decentralized, with Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast serving as host cities.
Despite wishing the Benin Republic had participated, Musa Baba-Musa, the Head Coach of the Men’s team, expressed confidence in his team’s potential. He anticipated improved performances once foreign-based players joined the squad.
Ijeoma Ukpabi, the captain of the women’s team, echoed similar optimism, highlighting the team’s unity, a blend of experienced and young players, and strong training regimen as factors contributing to their readiness for the African Games.
NAN further reported that the women’s team secured a 3-0 victory against Lagos State’s selected players, securing scores of 25-9, 25-10, and 25-12.