Egypt has once again dropped out of the World League, and once again, they will be replaced by Portugal.
If this seems like a déjà vu, it’s because it is. This exact same thing happened in 2011, when Portugal replacing Egypt after the later couldn’t host due to political turmoil.
This time around, it seems the reasoning is an inability to meet hosting requirements.
At first glance, it may seem that this works in Canada’s advantage. At this time, Egypt is ranked 12th, while Portugal is all the way down in 36th. But let’s keep in mind that Egypt’s only “real” competition is the likes of Tunisia and Cameroon. Not exactly what you would call volleyball powerhouses.
On the other hand, Portugal playing in the CEV sees quality competition on a regular basis. They even managed to stay in the World League for two seasons, albeit they did have to fend of relegation against China in 2011.
Hopefully this bodes well for ticket sales when Portugal comes to play Canada in Toronto in June. The Big Smoke boasts a pretty large Portuguese community; so Canadian fans might have to bring out the noise.