Kenya to face Mauritius in under-23 Olympic qualifying campaign

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-13 22:30:59|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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NAIROBI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's under-23 head coach Francis Kimanzi says his team is ready to challenge Mauritius in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The match will be among the many that will be played across the continent to determine the three African teams at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, Kimanzi said his side has everything to lose when they host the island country. The winner of the encounter will play Sudan or the Seychelles in the second round.

"I have very high hopes [that] the team will play well and win the match. This is the first leg and we need to win at home then focus on the return leg away in Mauritius this Sunday," Kimanzi said.

There will also be a third round, which will determine the team that will qualify for the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt next year. The tournament in Egypt will act as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, with the best three teams gaining automatic qualification to Tokyo.

Kimanzi said he has selected the best 18 players and they have intensified their training to maximize their hopes of first qualifying for the Under-23 Nations Cup finals in Egypt and then the Olympics.

"The Olympics is a long shot, but we must believe in ourselves. Each challenge has a starting point in seeking a solution and we believe, Kenya will weather the storm against Mauritius and then move to the next round. For now the matches against Mauritius are what matters to us," he added.

In March, Kenya's under-23 team played two matches against Uzbekistan losing 1-0 and winning the second 2-0. Senegal, Algeria and champions Nigeria made the cut for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Eight teams will qualify for the quadrennial competition to be hosted by Egypt in December next year.

Other East Africa teams will see Uganda start off against South Sudan, Burundi will take on Tanzania while Ethiopia will play Somalia.