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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya keeps U-23 Africa Cup of Nations dream alive   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will play Sudan in the second round of the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in March 2019.

Sudan defeated the Seychelles 2-1 on aggregate, after the two sides drew 1-1 in the first leg. Kenya’s head coach Francis Kimanzi has since called on his team to remain focused and believe in their strength ahead of the clash in March.

Kimanzi said “focus is critical” after they beat Mauritius 8-1 on aggregate to seal their spot in the second round qualifier matches. The winner of the qualifier in March will play either Nigeria or Libya in the final round scheduled for June.

“This tournament is challenging because we all focus on young players; those who are yet to find their niche in top flight football. That is why I see it as a long term plan for the country. We still have a long way to go, each match in the qualifiers is critical, it doesn’t matter the quality of the opponent, but going forward it will get tighter and more challenging,” said Kimanzi.

Kenya’s captain Joseph Okumu says he is ready to lead from the front and ensure the side qualifies for its first ever Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

“We want to be like the senior Harambee Stars [Kenya’s national football team]. They are on the cusp of qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon having been out for 15 years. We want to emulate them,” said Okumu.

The seven winners of the third round across Africa will join hosts Egypt at the Under-23 Cup of Nations Cup finals in November 2019. Only the top three teams in the eight-team championship will represent the continent at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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