Nairobi, Mar 18: Kenya's Under-23 team reignited their campaign to win Olympic tickets when they play Sudan away in Khartoum on Wednesday.
It's the first of the two-legged clash of the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations, which also serves as the continental Olympic Games qualifier. The finals will be held in Egypt from November 8-22.
Head coach Francis Kimanzi was buoyant on Monday as the team departed for the Sudanese capital, saying they have the capacity to soak the waves of pressure from their hosts and is hopeful they will manage a positive result.
It will be the second match for Kenya, nicknamed the Emerging Stars, after they beat Mauritius in the first round home and away. But Kimanzi has called on his charges to expect a strong challenge in Khartoum.
"We did well against Mauritius and it's good that we have retained a big part of that squad. The boys are motivated and I am confident we will get a positive result," Kimanzi said in Nairobi.
The qualifying phase will involve three rounds with 30 teams beginning their campaign in two-legged encounters.
About 13 teams including hosts Egypt given a bye, join in the second qualifying round this week. Only eight teams will qualify for the final tournament in Egypt, which will act as part of the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The second round qualifiers will see Kenya take on Sudan on Wednesday with the second leg set to be played on March 26 in Nairobi.
The winner on aggregate will face either Nigeria or Libya in the third round to determine who grace the 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Egypt, which will act as a qualifier to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan. (UNI-Xinhua)