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Rio Olympics dreams edge for Kenya

SPORTS By BS MULAVI | November 15th 2015

Kenya’s dream of making it to Rio Olympics rugby 7s category edged closer to reality as the African powerhouse put on a resounding display in the group stages of the Africa Qualifiers, yesterday.

Kenya missed out on automatic qualification to the Olympics in the previous season of the World Rugby Sevens circuit and hence had to play in the Africa Qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa, if they hope to secure a spot.

With the stakes high, Kenya opened their account yesterday afternoon with a 50-5 thrashing of Mauritius, which they followed up with a 27-0 victory over Senegal and a 46-0 drubbing of Madagascar. The three victories guarantee their place in the Main Cup quarterfinals today at the same venue.

Kenya have to win the tournament to land the single spot remaining for the Olympics. Their confidence will be boosted by their dominant display in the group stages, where they commanded the bulk of possession, territorial play and were disciplined in defence.

Kenya are currently ranked above all the other sides in the tournament, given that they are the only core team in World Rugby Series, who are playing the Africa qualifiers.

South Africa finished in the top four of the World Rugby Seven Series hence were not included in the qualifiers, leaving Kenya’s main opposition to Zimbabwe who are pushing hard to make a mark in the international arena through either the Olympics or by achieving core status in the circuit.

Qualifying for the Olympics will not only be a dream come true, but will also be a major boost ahead of the beginning of the next season of the circuit, which kicks off in Dubai in December 3-5.

Kenya have been drawn in Pool D with England, Australia and Wales. Fiji, the defending champions are in Pool A with Argentina, Canada and Japan. Pool B has South Africa, Scotland, Samoa and Russia while 12-time Series champions New Zealand, USA, France and Portugal are in Pool C.

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Head coach Benjamin Ayimba will be happy that his return to the national team is on a high note, but his work is still cut out today as they aim to secure qualification, which might be a bit more of a challenge than playing their group stage opponents.

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