Kenya women rugby team eyeing qualification for World Cup

2017-09-13 14:35:52 GMT2017-09-13 22:35:52(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

By John Kwoba

NAIROBI, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's women rugby team hopes to break the jinx and make its debut at next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, the United States.

Lionesses' coach Camilyne Oyuayo faces a tough group on her quest to make it to the U.S.

The Lionesses are in Pool B with Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Senegal, while champions South Africa headline Pool A which features Uganda, Morocco and hosts Tunisia.

The winner of this tournament will claim Africa's sole berth to the World Cup 2018.

"It is a big challenge that we have to take. We have the odds against us with South Africa standing as the superior. But this is competition and anyone can make surprises if they rise up to the occasion," Oyuayo said here on Wednesday.

Oyuayo has picked up rookie Judith Auma handing her a maiden call up. Auma is making the Lionesses final squad to Tunisia for this weekend's Women's Africa Cup Sevens, which doubles up as the African qualifying round for the World Cup.

Overall, head coach Kevin Wambua has made four changes to the side that reached the Cup quarterfinal at the Women's Sevens World Series qualifiers in Hong Kong in April, with Catherine Abilla and Linet Moraa relegated to non-travelling reserves, and Irene Otieno and Prisca Nyerere missing out altogether.

Their absence paves way for Rachael Mbogo to make her first appearance since Rio 2016 while Janet Okello and Cynthia Camila make their first appearance since December's Dubai Sevens.

Kenya team has returned to Nairobi after clearing its residential camp in Mombasa.

The Africa tourney will be played on Sept. 16-17 in Jemmel, Tunisia. There are eight teams who are keen to fight to get the one place available for the World Cup.

The World Cup 2018 will feature 24 men's and 16 women's teams across four days of competition in San Francisco.

And the four semi-finalists from Moscow 2013 World Cup are pre-qualified, namely New Zealand, Canada, Spain and U.S.

Under the agreed qualification process, the top four nations from the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016-17 - excluding these pre-qualified teams - would confirm their places at World Cup 2018, meaning that Australia, Fiji, Russia and France are now qualified.

The remaining eight places will be filled by teams through regional competitions from June 2017 to April 2018 with Europe having picked on England and Ireland, Asia has two teams while Africa, North America, South America and Oceania have one team each.

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