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Kimanzi upbeat Kenya will qualify for
Under-23 Africa Nations Cup, Olympics

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Under-23 head coach Francis Kimanzi has warned his side the hard work to qualify for the 2020 Olympics begins starts now, after they defeated Mauritius 8-1 on aggregate.

Kimanzi, whose side beat Mauritius 3-1 on Sunday away in Port Luiz, wants his team to remain focused ahead of their next round of matches in March, and asked Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to arrange international friendly matches for the team.

“The team now needs to play build up matches and remain focused for the task ahead. It is a new challenge for us in age group competitions,” Kimanzi said on Monday in Nairobi.

Kenya won the first-leg tie 5-0 in Nairobi to set them on their way to overall victory, but will have to wait until Wednesday to find out whether they will play Seychelles or Sudan in the second round.

That tie is finely poised after both sides played out a 1-1 draw in the Seychelles, with the return leg to take place in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Wednesday.

“Kenya has great quality but you have to build a foundation first before bringing more players into the team. For now, they have done the job and we wait for the second round,” said Kimanzi.

The third round of qualifying will determine who qualifies for the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, which itself acts as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics, with the tournament’s top three teams securing safe passage to Tokyo. 

As hosts, Egypt’s Young Pharaohs will be under pressure to qualify as one of the African representatives at the Games.

However, Kenya is also keen to ruffle feathers and break West Africa’s dominance in the competition.

“After the CAF Executive Committee meeting, Egypt won the right to host the 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations, which qualifies for the Olympic Games,” said a CAF statement on Monday.

Egypt replaces Zambia who pulled out after having previously been nominated to stage the competition, whose first edition took place in 2011.


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