The 2021 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball African Championships get underway in Cape Coast, Ghana, on Monday (6 December) with a record 10 men’s and women’s teams set to compete.
The competition, which was first held in 2016, will see the debut of hosts Ghana in both the men’s and women’s, Cameroon and Nigeria in the men’s and the Kenyan women’s team.
As well as the title, teams are also on the hunt for a place at the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships taking place in June next year.
Algeria are the undisputed regional champions in both competitions, having won all three editions so far.
The Algerian men are fresh from an appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, having qualified at the last African Championships in 2020.
Samir Belhouchat is expected to star in their attack once again. He returns to the court as a top five scorer from the Paralympics with 18 goals. His teammates Firas Bentria, Imad Eddine Godmane, Abdelhalim Larbi and Omar Mebarki also remain unchanged.
Despite securing a spot by claiming the last African title, the Algerian women did not make the journey to Japan for Tokyo 2020. But the side will return at Cape Coast 2021.
Egypt took Algeria’s Paralympic place in the summer as the silver medallists from the last African Championships. Having made history as the only other African women’s side to play at a Paralympics, the team are sending a completely new roster of players to undergo classification.
Algeria meanwhile are also trying to revamp their squad. They have put forward four new players but Bakhta Benallou and Saida Bourouba are charged with leading the refreshed line-up forward as established goalballers.
Hosts Ghana are hoping for a good performance in both the men’s and women’s. Kenya round-off the women’s competition, bringing the participating countries to four. Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria are the other sides in the men’s.
The number of new players across all teams is expected to make Cape Coast and incredibly exciting competition.
The 2021 IBSA Goalball African Championships round-off the major event calendar for the year, and is a qualifier for the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Hangzhou, China in June.
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