African pugilists will be fighting for Olympic slots

The AIBA African Olympic Qualifying Event begins in Casablanca, Morocco on April 28, with Nigeria presenting just five boxers in duels that promise to be exciting and tasking for the country’s pugilists.

Four of the Nigerian contingent gave a good account of themselves at the 2011 All African Games in Maputo, where they grabbed medals in different categories of the boxing events.

However, when the Olympic qualifiers start on Saturday, the Nigerian team faces a tough battle on the road to picking slots in the remaining 48 available for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Two Algerians have already qualified for the biggest show on Earth; Abdelhafid Benchebla, the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Light Heavyweight Champion, and Mohamed Amine Oudahi, 10th place finish in the Bantamweight division at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011.

The rest of the African line-up for the Olympic Games will be decided in Casablanca.

Several African boxers were invited to take part in the AIBA Road to London Programme to further hone their skills with some of the best coaches around. Many of those who participated are expected to make a big impact in Morocco’s largest city.

Two hundred and three athletes from 35 nations will take part in this AIBA African Olympic Qualifying Event, their last opportunity to get to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Joining the host nation, only Cameroon, Egypt and Kenya will be presenting the maximum number of ten athletes, while DR Congo, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia will send nine to compete.

Host nation, Morocco secured ten Olympic quotas for the Beijing Games and their target is to reach that same number for London.

Strong WSB fighter Mohamed Arjaoui, veteran Aboubaker Lbida, Beijing Olympian Mehdi Khalsi and former AIBA Junior World Champion Mehdi Ouatine will be the leaders in Morocco’s experienced squad.

The Algeria team has eight boxers who will also be aiming to achieve the maximum number of ten Olympic quotas in Casablanca.

Egypt also has a great tradition in boxing and its team will be lead in Casablanca by three-time Olympian veteran Mohamed Hikal, while their brightest prospect 19-year-old AIBA Youth World Championships bronze medallist Hesham Abdelaal will also be involved.

Seychelles and Mauritius trained and sparred together last month and once again this alliance could produce great performances.

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