CAIRO (FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017) - Egypt will be hosting next week's FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 Zone 5 qualifier looking to begin a new chapter in their basketball history.
At least, that's what Soraia Deghady hopes for.
From March 12-18, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Somalia will do battle in Cairo for the two tickets on offer for the FIBA Women's AfroBasket Final Round in Bamako, Mali (15-24 September).
It's Egypt's first official competition in two years.
Back in 2015, the North Africans caused a storm by beating the defending champions Angola in the Group Phase. Now, they want a lot more.
Boosted by what Deghady described to FIBA.com as "an inspirational moment", the 22-year-old point guard feels Egypt are no longer the pushover of decades ago.
“We’ve been working very hard to get the job done and qualify for the African Championship," the 1.70m guard offered.
“The team’s morale is high and we are ready. But we want more than winning the qualifier, we want to win the African Championship. We honestly believe we can do it."
Deghady, who continues building her name particularly with her no-look passes, is among the 14-player list that coach Amr Ashour is currently working with for the regional qualifier.
“Beating Angola boosted our levels of confidence," she recalled. "We are not a tall team but our team spirit and intelligence to play the game set us apart.
“We are a young team, but the age factor has never been a problem for us. One aspect of our game that we definitely need to improve is clearly our rebounding. We can shoot the ball but we must play tougher defense."
At first glance, Kenya and Uganda can give Egypt some hard time during the qualifier.
Yet, Deghady, who was named Most Outstanding Player of Zone 5 qualifiers three years ago, remains upbeat.
“Both Kenya and Uganda are good teams. We lost to them three years ago in the qualifiers in Kampala. So we know what to expect from those teams.
“We have to be realistic that playing at home has its advantages. We’ll make sure not to disappoint our fans."