NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16- Kenya’s Under-19 rugby team Chipu, departs for Windhoek Namibia on Monday to take part in the CAR 1A Cup of Nations with head coach Paul Odera eying the African glory.
Chipu open their campaign August 24 against Zimbabwe and hope to begin with a win which will earn them a ticket to the final against either Namibia or Tunisia who play in the other semi-final.
Odera expects a tough encounter from the Zimbabweans who have established age grade national teams.
“Zimbabwe is going to be a difficult opponent because they have national teams from U-13, U-16, U-18 and now U-19 which we will be facing. We will be playing some players who’ve been together for the last four years. But it is not something to worry as our players are just as talented as them,” Odera said.
Kenya have reached the finals twice before, losing to Namibia in both instances in 2013 and 2014. Last year, the side finished third and the target is to go one better this time round.
Speaking of the preparations, the coach noted they have worked a lot on fine-tuning their line outs as well as working on speed having done their homework on Zimbabwe’s tactics.
“After watching Zimbabwe play at the Junior World Trophy in April this year, it is clear we need quicker players to keep pace with the speed of the game. That’s what we’ve concentrated on. The conditioning coach has got the players to repeat hard work right through the duration,” he noted.
He says the coaching team has been focused on selecting taller players for the assignment as they seek to perfect their tact on the line-out, basing on how they played against Zimbabwe last year.
“The focus at the moment is to get over on Zimbabwe. We have done our homework on Namibia and Tunisia as well and once we get to the final, then we will have known how best to tackle either of them,” the tactician added.
He has named a 25-man squad for the championship including three foreign based players. Full back Jeff Mwendo and Back row Mark Mutuku from Kingswood College in South Africa as well as Scrumhalf Michael Kimwele from Culford School in England have made the cut.
Edgar Mwenya, Erastus Karani and Bob Otieno have all missed the final cut due to injury.
Captain Gabriel Adero believes the team is prepared enough to do well in Namibia.
‘We have trained so hard in the last five weeks and we feel ready to represent the country. We will do the best we can to ensure we achieve the target the coach has set for us.”