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The big kick off

DUBAI, March 5 – After an intense build up, the national sevens rugby team will finally get its 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign underway on Thursday afternoon when they take on their African counterparts Tunisia at 4:10pm at the majestic Sevens Park.

COLLINS_INJERAThough there has been a lot of talk about Kenya being the dark horses at this year’s event, they will need the perfect start as their record at the event is poor with their best performance being Bowl semifinals in 2001 and 2005.

In fact they have won a mere four matches in the Melrose Cup and lost ten so they have a hard task at hand.

Kenya however goes into this year’s tournament brimming with confidence after reaching three main cup quarterfinals and a semifinal in the first four legs of the IRB World series.

Beating South Africa and New Zealand recently will have further buoyed their confidence with Collins Injera in fine form.

Kenya will however have to guard against their famed inconsistency. Their big wins over rugby powerhouses have been punctuated with losses to Scotland, Uruguay and Portugal.

Their meeting with Tunisia will be the first since they thrashed the North Africans 22-12 in the World cup qualifiers last year and Coach Benjamin Ayimba is expecting a tough match.

“Tunisia will definitely bring all the fire they have just because they will want to have the authority in Africa and that becomes a very tricky game for us and so we will have to play like we are playing in the final itself,” he said.

Skipper Humphrey Kayange is also wary of facing a hungry Tunisian side, “That will be a very hard game for us," said Kayange.

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"We played them earlier in the qualifiers and we won, but this is a World Cup so it will be a different story and being African teams it will be a hard game for us and for them too.”

"So we are not looking at that game very easily and we are treating it with the same concentration and in the same way as we will treat our last one with England."

With Ayimba more or less settled on most of his starting sevens, the only poser is who will be the third man in the scrum joining Kayange and Allan Onyango. He has to pick between Victor Oduor who has been in great form and Wilson Kopondo who is back in the squad after missing out on the last two IRB legs in Wellington and San Diego.

Humphrey Kayange, Allan Onyango, Gibson Weru, Lavin Asego, Innocent Simiyu and Collins Injera are all set to start with Horace Otieno, Sidney Ashioya and Biko Adema set to come on from the bench.


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