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Kenya sevens team targets main title
in Africa Cup, World Series season

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Sevens rugby head coach Innocent Simiyu says Morocco and Botswana will provide strong challenge to gauge Kenya’s preparedness ahead of the World Series.

Simiyu, whose contract expires at the end of next month, will be in charge of the team as they head to Monastir city in Tunisia for the championship, the sixth in a series that began in 2013.

“Competition for space is stiff and we are working hard to get the best players to represent the country. Several young players have emerged from the local series and will be critical to carrying the flag in the Africa Men’s Sevens and the World Series,” said Simiyu on Friday in Nairobi.

Kenya is returning to the tournament, after finishing second in 2016 in Nairobi. It skipped last year’s event in Kampala, which was won by the hosts.

This year’s tournament has attracted 12 teams including defending champions Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Zambia, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius and Namibia.

Simiyu believes the tournament, Africa’s top competition in Sevens rugby, will be critical in preparing for the World Series, which starts in Dubai in December.

After the Tunisia competition, Kenya will host another two-day tourney, the Safaricom Sevens in Nairobi where teams from South Africa, USA, Portugal, Uganda and England will compete.

“We need our best players to be ready and that is why we want to take these tournaments seriously,” said the coach.

The coach has kept faith in youngsters Daniel Taabu and Mark Wandetto to make his 21-member team for the tournament.

Those who have been retained and have experienced playing in the World Series include Leonard Mugaisi, Alvin Otieno, Michael Wanjala, Herman Humwa, Cyprian Kuto and Brian Wahinya.

The coach has given first calls to Johnstone Olindi, Timothy Mmasi and Eliakim Kichoi while senior players Collins Injera, Andrew Amonde, Willy Ambaka, Eden Agero and Brian Tanga have not been considered.

The final 12-man squad will be unveiled closer to the tournament. Kenya are out to wrest the title from old rivals Uganda.

Kenya’s top performance in the World Series last season has made them the top seeded side in the tournament and they are grouped alongside Botswana and Morocco in Pool



Kenya rugby team seeded first in Africa Cup Sevens tourney

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s good performance in the rugby World Series has seen it seeded first in the upcoming Africa Cup Sevens tournament, which will be held in Tunisia next month.

It will be the last competition for coach Innocent Simiyu, who will step down at the end of October.

However, the coach says the team, which moved to camp on Wednesday, will be in top form for the tournament that runs in Monastir, Tunisia on Oct. 13-14.

Kenya is in the process to recruit a new head coach with seven international candidates having put in their applications. New coach will take over from Nov. 1.

A total of 12 teams have confirmed participation and Kenya will have to be at their best form if they are to beat giants Morocco and Botswana in Pool A.

“We have resumed training from Wednesday in readiness for this assignment. The players are all developing after the recess and hopefully will be in top form as we arrive in Tunisia,” said Coach Simiyu on Thursday in Nairobi.

Defending champions Uganda headline Pool B which also features Senegal and Ghana while Zimbabwe, hosts Tunisia and Mauritius make up Pool C. Pool D comprises Madagascar, Namibia and Zambia.

Kenya will be keen to reclaim the trophy they lost to Uganda in the semifinal of the tournament in 2016 in Nairobi as part of the Kenya’s Safari Sevens competition. In 2017, Kenya skipped that year’s Africa Cup, held in Uganda.

The tournament was then used as a qualifier for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, which Kenya had already qualified for owing to its top ranking in the World Series.

Kenya named a team of 41 players to start training for the upcoming season. Coach Simiyu, however, will not have five utility players who have been omitted from the squad that is in training.

They are captain Oscar Ayodi, his deputy Oscar Ouma Samuel Ng’ethe, Arthur Owira and Samuel Oliech.

They will be using the tournament to prepare for the start of the World Seven Series in December in Dubai and in Cape Town a week later.

Last year, the team finished the World Series circuit with highest-ever points total of 104 under coach Simiyu.

Kenya will also compete in the Safaricom Sevens tourney, which will have eight international teams in Nairobi on Nov. 9-11.

Among the teams that have been invited include Portugal, Namibia, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, Spain, USA and Uganda.


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