NAIROBI, Kenya, July 5 – Mwamba’s Edwin Machanje and Strathmore’s Charles Omondi are the new call ups named Thursday to the national 15s rugby side that will seek to defend their Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) title in Tunisia.
Head coach Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno while naming the final traveling squad of 24 made a pledge of retaining the African title they won for the first time last year after they beat hosts Tunisia 16-7 in the finals.
“It’s crucial that we don’t drop out of Division 1A, Africa’s top tier given that teams that fall off this tier will simply be knocked out of qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
To achieve this feat, Otieno has to marshal his charges next Tuesday in their opening match against their fierce Ugandan rivals who they lost the Elgon Cup to during the last encounter in June.
“We are taking it step by step with the first hurdle been a win against Uganda after which we will turn our focus to the defence of our title against the winner from the other tie,” he added.
Zimbabwe will take on last year finalists Tunisia in the other semi final during the July 10-14 tournament in Tunis.
Otieno is optimistic that the team which has been in residential training at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani for the past month is well prepared for the task ahead.
“The squad is made up of relatively young side as we look into the future but be assured they have the experience and pedigree requisite for playing at this level.
“The players had outstanding performances at the last edition of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series tournament and all bring that cutting edge to the team,” expressed Otieno on the depth of his squad.
Team Manager Wangila Simiyu took the opportunity to request for backing from local corporate companys in their quest to clinch qualification for the coming World Cup.
“We are African champions and it’s sad that the team is not been given the recognition it deserves
“If it were the football national team that has won the continental title, I believe the government and other stakeholders would be in the front line in lending their support,” he lamented the lack of corporate sponsors before the team departure on Saturday.
Joel Nganga (Rhinos/Captain), Moses Amusala (Lions), Dennis Karani (Rhinos), Curtis Lilako (Lions), Sammy Warui (Rhinos), Duncan Mwangi (Rhinos),Wilson Kopondo(Rhinos), Ronnie Mwenesi (Cheetahs), Tony Mutai (Rhinos), Duncan Ekasi (Cheetahs), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru), Charles Omondi (Sharks), Lawi Buyachi (Cheetahs), Edwin Machanje (Lions), Moses Kola (Cheetahs), Edwin Achayo , Eden Agero (Rhinos), Isaac Adimo (Sharks), Nick Barasa(Rhinos), Patrice Agunda (Quins), David Ambunya (University of Cape Town), Vincent Mose (Cheetahs), Tony Onyango (Sharks), Dennis Muhanji (Rhinos)
Coach: Michael Otieno, Assistant Coach: Charles Ngovi, Team Manager: Wangila Simiyu, Physiotherapists: Chris Makachia