Two games not to be missed in the second window of the African Qualifiers
Obviously the likes of Cameroon, Rwanda, DR Congo and Kenya are always fun to watch, but fireworks will be in store at the Dakar Arena during the three days when two powerhouses, Senegal and Egypt , will face off in Group D while African champions Tunisia take on South Sudan in a David vs Goliath Group B encounter.
SENEGAL vs EGYPT
Senegal, third at FIBA AfroBasket 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda, reach their peak at the right time while Egypt, who were 11th in the 16-team event, quickly crumble if that clash 86-78 against Guinea is something to pass.
While the young Lions are already showing their teeth and with the games in their own backyard, they should be able to bite off a big bite.
Pierra Henry of American origin, Gorgui Dieng, Youssoupha Ndoye, Ibrahima Faye and Brancou Badio form the Senegalese nucleus.
They have pedigree and so much firepower and remain the team to beat.
The last time Senegal and Egypt played each other at the AfroBasket 2017 group stage in Dakar, the Senegalese dispatched their visitors 87-52.
Egypt are aiming for a fourth appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup since their last outing in 2014 in Spain.
For the Pharaohs, and especially for newly appointed Canadian tactician Roy Rana, he must show he can stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Their last appearance on the Basketball World Cup podium was in 2014 in Spain.
After an impressive 5-0 mark in the final AfroBasket qualifiers last year, the Pharaohs – who shocked Senegal in the 2013 AfroBasket semi-finals – somehow ran out of gas in the final after three consecutive defeats against Tunisia, Guinea and Angola. A victory against the Central African Republic minimized the damage.
With a new coaching staff and a group of players who have been together for nearly a decade, Egypt could give Senegal a tough time.
Their key players include Ehab Saleh Amin, who has probably come out as the sixth most productive man in Kigali, Anas Mohammed, Mohab Yasser and Amr Gendy.
TUNISIA vs SOUTH SUDAN
Sparks will fly when the best team in Africa takes on a newcomer to the neighborhood. Tunisia went unscathed in a 6-0 record as they beat Ivory Coast 78-75 in the AfroBasket 2021 final en route to a back-to-back crown.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams after Tunisia, making their 22nd participation in the continental event won 80-65 in the quarter-finals in Kigali.
The African champions, who qualified for their first FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010 and finished 20th last in China, look solid. They have pedigree, firepower and remain the team to beat in Group B.
It will be inconceivable that Tunisia fail to do so, judging by their form, Tunisia have Makren Ben Romdhane, Omar Abada, Mourad El Mabrouk, Michael Roll and Salah Mejri.
South Sudan, who played their first FIBA AfroBasket last year and ended up in an impressive seventh place, will also make their first appearance in a WC Qualifier.
The South Sudanese announced their arrival on the continental stage during pre-qualifying in the Kenyan capital in January 2020. They picked up four convincing wins before losing 74-68 to the hosts.
Although they were dismantled 104-75 by the Senegalese in Kigali, they regrouped to overtake Uganda 88-86 to finish second in Group D and stormed into the quarter-finals by eliminating Kenya 60- 58.
Deng Acuoth, Mareng Gatkuoth, Kuany and Deng Ring have made strong contributions to their first African festival and will rely on them to produce.
So can South Sudan take inspiration from Uganda against Nigeria at FIBA AfroBasket 2021?
The first window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers kicked off in November 2021 in Benguela, Angola, where Ivory Coast finished undefeated in three games.