Olympic qualifiers

Lionesses' boost as South Africa rule themselves out of Tokyo Olympics

In Summary

•Kenya face Senegal, Ghana, Botswana in pool A

Second placed team at the end of the qualifiers  heads to the repechage next year 

Sheila Chajira with ball fends off a Uganda opponent in a past match
File Sheila Chajira with ball fends off a Uganda opponent in a past match

Kenya Lionesses hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games have received a boost after South African Sports Confederation & Olympic Committee said they will not be sending a team to the Tokyo extravaganza even if they win the qualifiers slated for this weekend in Tunisia.

It's the second time that the rugby-mad nation have ruled out sending their ladies team to the Olympics having qualified for the last edition in 2016 Rio Games only to pull out at the 11th hour.

Lionesses went on to participate at the Rio edition where they finished 11th in the 12-team tournament.

Instead, South Africa will be keen to play at the Dubai sevens in December should they win the Olympic qualifier and look at progression to the World Sevens Series qualifier in HongKong in March next year.

The Kenya Lionesses were due to leave the country last night for the qualifiers in Monastir, Tunisia over the weekend.

The Lionesses headline Pool 'A' and will face Senegal, Ghana, Botswana. Pool 'B' features Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia. Hosts Tunisia are the frontrunners in Pool 'C' and will battle it out Morocco Mauritius, and Madagascar

Lionesses tactician Felix Oloo said the girls are ready for the qualifiers where they plan not to take any team for granted.

"It's unpredictable. Yes, we are the top-ranked team on the continent but we must tread carefully for the two days we will be playing,” added Oloo.

Oloo said the team trained well for the past two months and can't wait for the action to start.

"It's our goal this season to qualify for the Olympics. The girls have worked hard in training and now it's to execute our game-plan on the two days,” added Oloo.

Skipper Philadelphia Olando said the girls have nothing to be afraid of playing against South Africa.

"We broke the mental barrier this year when we beat them in the qualifiers, in any case, it's them who are running scared of us," added Olando.

The team that finishes as runner up will head to the repechage against other qualifiers from other continents in June.