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Pressure on Kenya rugby sevens to
avoid relegation from World Series

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya rugby sevens head coach Paul Murunga on Thursday urged his team to rise to the occasion in London and Paris and secure maximum points to avoid relegation from the World Series.

Ahead of their tour of London on Saturday, the Kenyan team sits in position 13 with 26 points, one above Wales while Japan occupies the red zone, the last and relegation spot with 22 points.

Only four points separate Kenya, Wales and Japan in the bottom three so there is everything to play for in London.

The relegated team will be replaced by Ireland, who secured core team status for the World Sevens Series 2020 by winning the qualifier event in Hong Kong City in April.

"I have always trusted this group of players to deliver against the odds. London and Paris is a delicate situation for us as we need to ensure we retain our core status in the Series.

"|I’m however confident that this team will deliver," said Murunga.

Team captain Jacob Ojee also remained hopeful to lead his charges to retain Kenya’s sit among the sevens rugby elite table.

"Despite the challenges and absence of some key players over stalled contract negotiations, I take it as a blessing in disguise given the fact that the team that was selected to represent the country has stepped up.

"We are hopeful that our performance will be enough to sustain our team at the higher level," said Ojee.

Kenya launched their London campaign on Saturday against Fiji, before playing Samoa and wrap up their day one action against France.

London Sevens will have a great impact on the race for Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification as leaders the United States, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and England all chase the automatic ticket.

The best four teams will qualify automatically and the rest are required to go through regional tournaments.


Kenya cricket team wants government support in World Cup quest

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya players made one step closer to secure their ticket to the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup in Australia after winning the Africa region qualifiers.

But the coaches want the government to support their struggle to recoup their lost glory and return to the top level of global cricket.

"We need the government to help us attain the goal of playing at the World Cup.

"The players have shown their hunger for this achievement, now we need a little help in welfare to attain this feat," said assistant coach David Obuya on Saturday.

Speaking on arrival in Nairobi from Kampala, Obuya said despite their financial challenges, they are focused on winning a ticket to the World Cup in Australia.

"What is important is playing together as a team and winning.

"Every one played his role as we had planned before we left for Kampala.

"I have respect for the players.

"The performance of the team in Kampala is a sure way of Kenya regaining her lost glory," said Obuya on Saturday in Nairobi.

Kenya’s last game in the ICC Men’s T20 Africa Region Final against Namibia was abandonment at Kyambogo Oval.

"Kenya were scheduled to fight it out with Namibia for the top position on the points table but a heavy downpour that hit Kampala overnight forced officials to abandon the match.

Both Namibia and Kenya tied on the table with eight points apiece, but Namibia had a superior net run rate (4.547) to Kenya’s (1.363).

It was Kenya’s best performance in the qualifier since 2007 when they made it to the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.

Kenya and Namibia were both unbeaten and the duo will represent Africa in the global World Cup qualifier set for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from Oct. 11 to Nov. 3.

In Dubai, 14 teams will tussle for the six qualifying spots for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia that will run from Oct. 6 to Nov.15.

Kenya team will take a week off to regain their strength and return to training on June 3.

Australia and nine other top-ranked sides - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies - have already secured direct qualification to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020.

Kenya and Namibia qualify for Twenty20 Cricket World Cup global qualifiers

by Andrew Oryada KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Namibia have qualified for the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup global qualifiers after they emerged winners of the African final qualifiers that ended here on Friday.

Namibia who won three games against Ghana, Botswana and hosts Uganda also benefited two points from draws against Nigeria and Kenya because of the unplayable wet grounds.

The Namibia team finished top with 8 points with a better Net Run Rate (NRR) of 4.547 than Kenya who came second with the same number of points but a lower NRR of 1.363.

"We are glad that we have topped these qualifiers and now our attention moves to the global qualifiers.

"It is bad that the wet ground did not give us chance to play two games because it would have helped with more exposure of the team," Namibia’s senior player Gerhard Erasmus told Xinhua on Friday.

Kenya’s captain Shem Ngoche said beating rivals Uganda by just one run was their turning point in the qualifiers.

"We are happy to make it to the next level, but we have to keep training hard because we are going to face very tough teams in United Arab Emirates," added the captain. United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the global qualifiers scheduled to run Oct. 11-Nov. 3.

Nigeria finished third with six points, while the hosts Uganda came fourth with five points. Botswana collected two points and Ghana one point.

Namibia and Kenya will now join Papua New Guinea, UAE, China’s Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands, Oman, Scotland and Zimbabwe in the global qualifiers where six top teams will advance to the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020.


Kenya football team forfeits Gambia friendly match, to play DR Congo in Madrid

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Plans to have Kenya play Gambia in Paris on June 15 have collapsed and instead Kenya will meet Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Madrid on the same day, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) announced on Thursday.

FKF President Nick Mwendwa confirmed the change of itinerary for the national football team, which is due to fly out to their training base in Paris on May 31.

Kenya is among the 24 teams that have qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, which starts in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.

"It is unfortunate that our plan to play Gambia did not go through. Instead we have secured a friendly against DRC and it will be played in Madrid, Spain.

"It is just a one-hour flight from France and the coach is very okay with that," said Mwendwa.

Kenya team, which is coached by Frenchman Sebastien Migne, is returning to the continental football fiesta for the first time in 15 years.

Migne is under pressure to present a strong team and hopes his side will sail through the initial preliminary round.

Kenya is pooled in Group C together with giants Senegal, Algeria and Tanzania.

The top two teams from each of the six groups together with the best four third placed teams will secure passage to the last 16 of the tournament.

Kenyan women’s volleyball team eyes Africa Nations Cup

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya women’s volleyball team remains on course to defend their Africa Games title by winning the Zone Five championships in Kampala, Uganda on Tuesday.

Kenya, who won the gold medal four years ago in Brazzaville, Congo, became the first team to book their zonal ticket for Africa Games and will join six other regional winners in the finals alongside hosts Morocco in Rabat in August.

Uganda finished second while Rwanda won the bronze medal ahead of Ethiopia.

Coach Japheth Munala said here Wednesday that the team will now turn their focus to the Africa Nations Cup volleyball tournament, which will be held in Cairo, Egypt in June, where they will seek revenge against Cameroon, who beat them in 2017.

"We have won the ticket to Africa Games.

"However, we still have the Africa Nations Cup, tournament which will be in Cairo and it will have more teams.

"We want the best preparation for the team because this competition will be critical ahead of our start for the Olympic Games qualification program," Munala said.

The Africa Games will be limited to eight teams, host morocco, Kenya representing zone Five and other six zonal champions. However, the Africa Nations Cup is open to 24 teams based on their rankings.

Kenya will now be taken over by Italian coach Shaileen Ramdoo who arrived in the country two weeks ago to help the team prepare for the Olympic Games qualification.

Ramdoo will decide on the 14-member team.

"The foreign coach will come help raise the level of competition and the game of our girls and increase our chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics," said Waithaka Kioni, chairman of Kenya Volleyball Federation.

Kenya will compete at the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament set for August in Italy where they will face the host team, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium from Aug. 2-4.

Only the winner will secure a ticket to 2020 Tokyo Games.

Should Kenya fail, they still have another chance through the Africa Olympic qualifiers in April next year to secure their berth in Tokyo. Kenya last competed at the Olympics in Athens in 2004.

Kenya volleyball team defeats Uganda to qualify for 2019 All-Africa Games

by Andrew Oryada KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s national women’s volleyball team finished top in the Africa Zone 5 qualifiers, booking a place at the 2019 All-Africa Games in Morocco in August.

The Kenyan team won their third deciding game against hosts Uganda 25-20, 25-17, 25-16 to make it a clean sweep as they look to defend the gold medal they won at the 2015 Games in the Republic of Congo.

"I am very happy that although we had some financial difficulties before traveling to Uganda, we have managed to qualify for the All-Africa Games by winning all our games against Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda," Kenya’s head coach Japheth Munala told Xinhua after Tuesday’s game.

Kenya captain Mercy Moim said they have a well-balanced team that is capable of winning gold at the All-Africa Games again.

"We shall continue to train hard because we are not only looking at the All-Africa Games, but the World Championship," added Moim.

In an earlier match, Rwanda picked a consolation 25-16, 25-11, 25-19 win over Ethiopia to finish third.

Kenya who won all three of their games, finished with six points, while Uganda came second with four points and Rwanda third with two points.

Ethiopia completed the qualifiers without registering a win.

Each of the seven zones in Africa will have one team qualify to join hosts Morocco for the 12th All-Africa Games in August.

Kenya faces tough test in Africa Region Four golf tournament

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s top ranking golfers will be put to the test when they travel to Bujumbura for this year’s Africa Region Four golf championship, which runs from June 4-9.

Last year in Mombasa, Kenyan players failed to start among the top teams as Uganda beat Rwanda in the final match to clinch the title.

Over 200 golfers competed in the inaugural tournament, which brought together eight countries.

East Africa is keen to market the area as a sports tourism destination.

In this year’s competition, only eight teams will be competing including hosts Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Seychelles.

The Kenyan team has Samuel Njoroge, Simon Njogu, Zubair Khan and Mutahi Kibugu.

National junior coach John van Liefland will be in charge of the team while Kenya Golf Union (KGU) vice chairman Anthony Murage will serve as the team manager.

"They are good players, who will be up against strong challenge in Bujumbura.

"We want to build on the team and hope the region will grow in the sport," said Murage on Wednesday in Nairobi.

Liefland said he will use the Kenya Amateur Match Play Championship, which starts Thursday in Limuru Country Club to prepare for the championship.

Murage said the eight countries, who also participated in last year’s tournament, in Mombasa showed top play and challenged Kenya’s dominance since it was started years ago, then known as the East Africa Challenge Cup.

Kenya to play Ghana in warmup matches for Africa Games basketball qualifiers

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan men’s and women’s basketball teams have lined up Ghana friendly matches in Nairobi on Friday to gauge their preparations ahead of the Africa Games Zone Five qualifiers.

These came just five months after the Kenyan men’s team lost out to Cameroon 61-46 in another friendly match also staged in Nairobi.

Cameroon were on their way to Luanda to play against Angola in the African qualifiers to the China 2019 World Cup.

Seven teams out of 11 have confirmed participation in the Zone Five Africa Games qualifiers, which will be staged in Kampala, Uganda in June. Champions Egypt, Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda will be the teams eyeing the single slot from the group.

The Africa Games will be held in August in Rabat, Morocco from Aug. 19-31.

"Our training has been good since December.

"The friendly against Ghana will be important to our players and it could not have come at a better time.

"It will help the coach to assess our strong points and identify weaknesses that need to be acted upon," said Ronnie Owino, the Kenyan women’s head coach.

With the qualifiers expected to be competitive, Kenya have recalled the Spain-based power forward Mercy Wanyama to steer the team through the tournament.

However, U.S.-based Felmas Adhiambo Koranga will sit out despite her being in the country as she is nursing an injury.

"It is a blow to our plans to miss Koranga.

"She is one of the best players in Africa," said Owino.

Kenya is currently ranked 22nd in Africa and only the best seven teams will join host Morocco in the Africa Games in Rabat in August.

Bahrain’s Olympic marathoner Kirwa caught doping, suspended from competition

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain is the latest athlete from Rio 2016 to be suspended for doping violations.

Kirwa, 29, is based in Kenya and is married to coach Joshua Kemei.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Wednesday that Kirwa had violated anti-doping rules.

Kirwa is the second elite Kenyan born Bahraini banned after steeplechaser Ruth Jebet. Last month world half marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum was suspended for ABP violation.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Bahrain had two medals, gold in the 3,000m steeplechase by Ruth Jebet and silver medalist (Eunice Kirwa in marathon).

Now both have failed doping tests since. Kenya’s Jemiama Sumgong, who won gold in the marathon, was also banned for doping.

Since December, three Kenyans have been banned for doping violations with Kirwa being fourth, though she now runs for Bahrain.

The others are Cyrus Rutto and Sarah Chepchirchir, who were found culpable for use of a prohibited substance and James Mwangi Wangari, whose blood showed higher testosterone levels.

However, despite the upsurge in cases of Kenyan athletes busted cheating, there have been concerted efforts to curb the vice.

Kenya has over 5,000 elite runners dominating middle and long distance races in Africa and across the world.

The World Marathon Majors (WMM) have poured money into the AIU to improve out-of-competition testing, particularly in East Africa.



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