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Kenyan 7s teams out to chase Olympic berth

National sevens team captain Andrew Amonde in action during a training session on 20th September 2013 at RFUEA ground.Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO

National sevens team captain Andrew Amonde in action during a training session on 20th September 2013 at RFUEA ground.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, November 3 – National men’s sevens head coach, Benjamin Ayimba will name his 12-man squad for Africa Olympics qualifier next week ahead of their departure on November 12.

Kenya who are seeded top will be out to grab the sole spot when the competition gets underway November 14 and 15 in Johannesburg after missing out the automatic qualification that was up for grabs for the top four finishers in the 2014-15 Rugby Sevens World Series.

Should they be successful in their quests for qualification, they will join the men’s hockey team and the women’s volleyball team as the only team sport to have represented the country at the Summer Games.

However, Ayimba has warned his team faces a difficult task to qualify despite being seeded top against 12 other African sides as they seek to win the tournament in Johannesburg on November 15, to clinch the sole berth for the Olympics where  sevens will makes its debut.

“This is really a tough test for us. It will not be an easy task,” said Ayimba, whose team are drawn against Madagascar, Mauritius and Senegal in the opening Pool A matches.

“The tournament is a sprint as opposed to a marathon where everyone has a shot at the Olympics. It is going to be a difficult one,” Ayimba stated.

The traveling squad  will likely be drawn from the players who featured in the 2014-15 sevens World Series, where Kenya finished 13th as well as from the Shujaa and Morans team who competed at this year’s Safari Sevens.

But Ayimba said the selection of the squad would be based on the player availability, fitness levels and team combinations.

“We are extremely lucky to have a committed squad which is looking to go forward, despite having no contracts or sponsors to give them the moral support,” the head coach underscored.

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The side is in residential high altitude training camp at Nandi Hills preparing in earnest for the event that will see only one team qualify for the Rio-De-Janeiro showdown.

By virtue of them being the only core side,  Kenya headline Pool A which also features Madagascar, Senegal and Mauritius.

Pool B will see Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Nigeria while Pool C consists of Tunisia, Morocco and Botswana battle it out.

Africa will be represented by three teams in Rio, including South Africa, who finished second to Fiji in the 2014-15 sevens World Series, which also doubled as the automatic qualifier for the Games.

-Lioness-

The Kenya Lionesses who missed out on direct qualification in September, face an uphill task when they will be seeking to try their luck via the world repechage against Argentina, Russia, Ireland, Spain, Venezuela and  the Oceania representative.

This final round of qualifying is set for 2016 at a date and venue to be confirmed by World Rugby.

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