The Kenya 7s team have been given top seed ranking for the final round of the men’s Rugby Sevens African 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers which will be played in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the weekend of November 14/15.
A total of 12 teams will take part in the qualifiers with the winner booking Africa’s sole berth to the 2016 Olympic games which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Teams that will finish in positions 2, 3 and 4 will still get a chance to feature at the games as they will participate in a 16-team repechage tournament which will see the winner booking a to the event.
The repechage tournament will feature two teams from South America (Uruguay and Chile), four teams from Europe (Spain, Russia, Germany and Ireland), two teams from North America (Mexico and Canada), three teams from Asia (To Be Confirmed), and two teams from Oceania.
The repechage tournament dates will be determined once each continent has concluded its qualifying tournaments. The teams taking part in the African qualifiers are Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Namibia, Uganda, Madagascar,Senegal, Zambia, Morocco, Mauritius, Nigeria and Botswana.
Already 8 teams have qualified with for Olympic games with only four remaining to be filled.
The qualified teams are hosts Brazil, teams that finished in the first four positions during the 2014-15 IRB Rugby Sevens tournament (Fiji, South African, New Zealand and Great Britain), South American Champions (Argentina), European Champions (France) and North American Champions (USA).
The slots waiting to be filled are of those Africa, Asia, Oceania and winner of the repechage tournament.
Okwonfor with his two guinea fowls at the Ohene Djan stadium during the AFCON 2008 opening match between Ghana and Guinea. | image source: guardian.com
The African Cup of Nations or the African World Cup if you like will be with us again in a few days time and today being a Friday, what better way to keep up with the #FlashbackFriday theme than a trip down memory lane to Ghana 2008.
If anything, I wish AFCON 2015 will be as entertaining as AFCON 2008 was and with that, today will mark the beginning of my recollections of AFCON 2008. I have so many memories of that AFCON since it is one that I enjoyed following and it is my hope that the memories of Ghana 2008 will warm you up well for AFCON 2015.
The Marhaba may not be colourful a ball as the Wawa Aba was but hopefully it can produce close or even more than the 99 goals that the Wawa Aba treated us to.
Wawa Aba is AFCON’s first memory of an official tournament match ball as Ghana 2008 was the first AFCON tournament to have a match ball designed specifically for it.
Wawa Aba is the name given to the seed produced by the wawa tree. The Akan people see the seed as a symbol of toughness and perseverance. Seeing that to win the AFCON one needs to be tough, there could not have been a more apt name for the tournament’s official match ball than Wawa Aba.
The ball was made using 14 panels and had yellow as the dominant colour supplemented with black, red and green to give the ball a feel of the Ghanaian national flag.
It is said that yellow is the most easily seen colour by the human eye but as far as the Wawa Aba was concerned, yellow makes a ball unstoppable. From Sulley Muntari’s screamer versus Guinea in the opening match to his bullet freekick versus Ivory Coast in the third-place match, the Wawa Aba made AFCON 2008 was a festival of glorious goals from a long way out as the following video links would attest:
Sulley Muntari’s scores Ghana’s winning goal against Guinea.
Mohammed Zidan hammers one in for Egypt against Cameroon. What a hit!
Elrio van Heerden equalizes for South Africa against Angola with this thunderbolt.
Pascal Feindouno freekick versus Morocco.
Kemoko Kamara could do nothing about this from Hicham Aboucherouane.
Bakari Kone seals Ivory Coast’s 5-0 win over Guinea.
Manucho stuns El-Hadary to prove Manchester United pedigree.
Geremi freekick against Tunisia.
Chaouki Ben Saada freekick against Cameroon.
Abdul Kader Keita bullet against Egypt.
Muntari ends the tournament as he started it, with a cracking goal.
The Wawa Aba was not the only object that added colour to AFCON 2008 as there were other colourful characters like Okwonfor, whose designation as Ghana’s Chief Sports Voodoo Priest made him the most important person in the nation after the national team coach Claude Le Roy.
Dressed in a green robe, a Mount Everest-size turban which was in the colours of Ghana’s national flag and some beaded necklaces, Okwonfor was an oracle as well as the unofficial tournament mascot.
Until Ghana’s 1-0 semifinal loss to Cameroon, the Black Stars scored as many goals as the number of birds he carried to the stadium in which they played. In Ghana’s opening match against Guinea he carried two guinea fowls and they won 2-1. In their second match against Namibia, which Ghana won 1-0, he carried an eagle. He erased any doubt of luck and coincidence playing a part in his “game” when he carried two guinea fowls to the stadium to watch Ghana defeat Morocco 2-0 in their final group game. For the quarterfinal match against Nigeria which the Black Stars came out 2-1 winners, he had a guinea fowl and an eagle.
Perhaps the reason why his tricks did not work against the Cameroonians in the semi-finals is because his use of voodoo to support the Black Stars was inspired by the Cameroon team of 1990 who had, according to him in an interview with postnewsline.com, a witchdoctor whose rituals and incantations helped the Indomitable Lions reach the quarterfinals of that year’s World Cup which was held in Italy. You can not fight fire with fire it seems or should we say, the student was not still up to the master’s standards.
If Marhaba and Wawa Aba rhyming is anything to go by, then hopefully we may be in for a goal fest in AFCON 2015.
Kenya sevens team, ‘Shujaa’ will face neighbours Uganda, hosts Zimbabwe, Nigeria Namibia and Ivory Coast for the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) sevens tourney in Harare this weekend.
Pool ‘A’ comprises of South Africa, Tunisia, Madagascar, Zambia, Senegal and Botswana. Shujaa coach Gibson Weru termed the pool a tricky one for the side and said the team will take each opponent seriously.
“We don’t want to be overconfident. If you look at the teams in our group, they are all strong and the nature of sevens is that on any given day, any team can beat you. We must therefore be on our guard and play well on both days,” he added.
-The Star Newspaper
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