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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Kenya cautious of Uganda in Africa Cup Sevens rugby tourney

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s rugby head coach Innocent Simiyu on Monday warned his team not to underrate any rival as they launch their campaign to reclaim the Africa Cup Sevens title from Uganda’s grip.

It will be the last final competition that Simiyu will be coaching Kenya as his contract expires on Oct. 31 and he is not among the 12 candidates, seven of whom are foreigners, who have applied for the job.

However, Simiyu remained enthusiastic about his side’s prospects for the Africa Cup Sevens, which will be held on Oct. 13-14 in Tunisia.

Simiyu singled out defending champions Uganda as the team to watch out.

“They are always good. They have everything to lose as the reigning Africa champions. However, Zimbabwe will be the surprise dark horses of the tournament eyeing to prove a point over the stakes of the sport in their nation.

“Zimbabwe have been playing good rugby as well as Zambia, who enjoy a good experience they gained from playing at the Commonwealth Games,” said Simiyu in Nairobi.

Kenya is using the tournament as the first gauge ahead of the World Series, which does not start until Dec. 1 in Dubai.

The team will also have second shot to review their preparedness when they take on other eight foreign teams at the Safaricom Sevens tourney in Nairobi next month.

Kenya will however, take each team serious and hope the crop of young players who have been summoned for the assignment will rise to the occasion and fight to make the final team for the World Series.

Kenya last won the Africa Cup Sevens in 2016 and Uganda won the title in Kampala last year when they hosted the event, which was used as a qualifier for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia.

However, Kenya gave the tourney a bye because it had already secured qualification as one of the ranked teams from World Series for the Commonwealth Games.

Kenya has been paired with Botswana and Morocco in Pool A for the Africa Cup Sevens.

“We have played these teams in the Safaricom Sevens, but we have players who are debuting at this stage and it will be a big learning step for them. The fight is on,” said Simiyu.

Some of the players out to impress the coach include Daniel Taabu, Mark Wandetto,  Johnstone Olindi, Timothy Mmasi and Eliakim Kichoi. The team departs for Tunisia on Oct. 11.

           

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