NAIROBI, October 15 – Preparations for the Africa Zone 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers in Tunisia will take a step up this weekend when the national sevens team holds a three day training camp in Mombasa.,
The choice of Mombasa for the camp was based primarily on the fact that its climatic conditions will mirror what the national team will be playing under in Mediterranean city of Tunis.The team is scheduled to leave for the Coastal town on Thursday.
Former skipper Innocent Simiyu is the notable absentee from the 19 player squad who will be keen to make the final 12 that will travel to Tunis for the qualifiers which will take place on October 31-November 1.
Sidney Ashioya and Allan Makaka are other illustrious players who will not be training with the team which began their physical assessments late last month at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) grounds.
Nondies backrow Ben Nyambu has been included in the squad as well as Nakuru halfback Gibson Weru.
Nyambu made his comeback for Kenya in the Wellington and San Diego legs of the 2007/2008 International Rugby Board (IRB) Series helping the national side reach the main cup semi final in America.
Weru has been out for six months with a shoulder injury sustained in training earlier this year and made his comeback to competitive rugby for in the latter stages of the Enterprise Cup.
As part of their physical conditioning programme, the players have been allowed to don their respective club colours in this weekend’s Driftwood Sevens which will be held at Mombasa Sports Club.
Kenya are top seeds in the Africa qualifiers and have been drawn in Pool A with North Africans Morocco and Ivory Coast.
Fifteen teams will be battling for the three places that have been set aside for African countries in the World Cup.
South Africa qualified fro the tournament automatically after reaching the main cup quarterfinals of the 2005 World Cup in Hong Kong.
Joshua Gathumbi (Strathmore University), Wilson K’Opondo (Mean Machine), Vincent Mose, Cyprian Shimenga, Gibson Weru (Nakuru RFC), Benedict Nyambu, Biko Adema, Charles Kanyi (Nondescripts RUFC), Dennis Mwanja (Kenya Commercial Bank), Nato Simiyu, Bryan Nyikuli, Naftaly Bondo (Impala), Humphrey Kayange, George Mbaye, Horace Otieno, Lavin Asego, Collins Injera (Mwamba), Allan Onyango, Leon Adongo (Kenya Harlequin FC).
African Qualifying Draw:
Pool A: Kenya , Morocco, Ivory Coast
Pool B:Tunisia Senegal, Zambia
Pool C: Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Botswana , Nigeria
Pool D: Uganda, Namibia, Cameroon, Swaziland