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Ayimba wary of tough Olympic sevens qualifiers

By AFP November 4th, 2015 1 min read

Kenya rugby sevens coach Benjamin Ayimba has warned his team faces a difficult task to qualify for the Olympic Games during the African regional qualifying tournament in South Africa next week.

Kenya are top seeds and are pitted against 12 other African sides, and must win the tournament in Johannesburg on November 15, to earn qualification to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, 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,” he added.

Kenya’s 12-man squad will be named next week and will likely be drawn from the players who featured in the 2014-15 sevens World Series, where Kenya finished 13th.

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,” Ayimba said.

Other teams set to compete in the two-day competition include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Botswana.

The top team will qualify for the Olympics, while the runners-up, third and fourth-placed teams, will go through to a final Olympic world qualifying tournament, which will take place in 2016 at a venue to be decided.

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 a qualifier for the Games.