NAIROBI, September 5 – New Kenya Cup champions Kenya Harlequin and runners-up Impala face off on Saturday in the opening match of the Zain sponsored Enterprise Cup at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa grounds from 4.30 pm.
Eleven teams will battle it out for top honours in Kenya’s oldest trophy which was donated by HMS Enterprise for Inter District Competitions in 1929.
Tanzania’s Twiga’s withdrew early this week paving way for Mombasa Sports Club to ease into the quarter-finals without kicking a ball. This was the first time that Tanzania Twigas entered the competition after breaking the ice by turning out for the Bamburi Rugby Super Series in March.
The Tanzanians who were supposed to host Mombasa Sports Club in Arusha cited injuries and unavailability of some of their key players.
Mombasa Sports Club shall now host defending champions Kenya Commercial Bank in Mombasa on September 13.
Quins v Impala
There could not have been a better start to the Enterprise Cup than with the top two sides in the just ended Kenya Cup League meeting in the first match. There is no love lost between these neighbours with the winner likely to claim the bragging rights of being the better team on Ngong Road.
There are some similarities. Both teams are coached by Kenya’s assistant coaches Edward Kinyany (Quins) and Charles Ngovi (Impala). The Red Shirts also had the national seven-a-side coach Benjamin Ayimba taking charge after the completion of the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series in June. He steered them to a second spot in the league after Quins beat KCB in the last Kenya Cup match.
But the similarities end there. While Quins went on to peak at the right time to win the diadem for the first time in five years, Impala played a second fiddle after blowing their chances against a resurgent KCB which is coached by one of their own, William Githinji.
Results between the two sides in the Kenya Cup League were close. Impala edged out Quins 22-12 on May 10 but narrowly lost the second leg 18-19 on July 19. Both matches were won on away grounds which could be good news to Impala.
Kinyany is likely to stick with the true and tested side that beat KCB last weekend in the Kenya Cup league. The only change may be Rauto giving way to Patrice Agunda at centre.
Innocent Simiyu will be back to face the side he left at the beginning of the season and will be playing alongside his younger brother Nato. On the opposite end are the Onyango brothers Patrick and Allan. Impala could miss the services of Dan Weku who was due to leave for his Paris base.
Ayimba is determined to make amends after nearly clinching the Kenya Cup. “We have talked about it and the players know they have a tough challenge. They are willing to give it their best shot,” Ayimba said.
Kinyany is starting on a clean sheet. “This is a new beginning and we will play against Impala as if it is our first match. They are a good side but we will just correct the mistakes we made against KCB and carry on from there. For us it is one game at a time although it would be good if we can go for the double,” the coach said.
Nondies v UTL Kobs
In the other match, Nondescripts who have had mixed results in the just concluded Kenya Cup play UTL Kobs which has a good sprinkle of the Uganda Cranes national team which has qualified for the semi finals of the Africa Rugby Confederation (CAR) Cup and 2011 Africa Zone Rugby World Cup qualifiers.