NAIROBI, Kenya, February 8 – Those of you who woke up in the wee hours last Saturday to catch the Kenya Sevens team in action will be forgiven for thinking you were living your worst nightmare.
The horror show that unfolded in Wellington has left many rugby fans asking what went wrong and fearing the worst when the fourth round of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series kicks off in Las Vegas.
Perhaps that’s the stage where Benjamin Ayimba should gamble (no pun intended) with making some painful decisions about selection following some lackluster perfomances from some players at Westpac Trust stadium.
Take the main cup quarter final against Samoa. Kenya was cruising at half time 12-0 up but rolled over once the match resumed allowing the South Pacific Islanders to waltz into the main semis.
It was a major one but the worst was yet to come. If having to deal with the ignominy of playing in the plate final is not enough, the white flag surrender to a young and inexperienced Australia team should be of primary concern.
Despite the efforts of Gibson Weru and Lavin Asego, the rest of the team did nothing but making up the numbers.
Defence was our achilles heel against the street wise while turnovers were our undoing against the Aussies. Kenya conceded four turnovers against their Oceania counterparts who ran each of them back for a try.
It was obvious that the starting forwards trio of captain Humphrey Kayange, Brian Nyikuli and Victor Oduor were not at the races as they struggled in the collision area against what appeared to be much fresher opponents.
Perhaps the team was still lingering from the after effects of playing in the Darwin sevens and training under the brutal Australian heat.
Whatever the reason, it was clear that the team had no clear cut goal in terms in regards of how they wanted to play as the veterans like Simiyu and Kayange looked like they were playing for the first time.
I feel for a player like Horace Owiti who has yet to be permanent fixture in the team even though playing second fiddle to Collins Injera and Sidney Ashioya is justified.
Biko Adema who was absent for the fist two rounds should have been used more especially in the tight games.
Andrew Amonde has been a bit part player so far but I think the time is right to involve him more especially going by the poor form shown by Nyikuli and Ben Nyambu.
Dennis Mwanja’s devastating form at the Resolution Health Impala Floodlits was a sight for sore eyes and his return to the national side would inject new life into the campaign.
Before that however lies the mission in Sin City. We face Samoa, Scotland and Chile, a combination that allows Ayimba to experiment and come up with new combinations before the crunch of the main cup quarters if we get that far.
But the ultimate goal now should be the World Cup in 2013 where the likes of Otieno, Nyikuli and Adema to play a crucial role.
Ayimba should seize the opportunity now to build the squad around this group of players and gradually amalgamate the likes of Wilson K’opondo and Amonde into the role of frontline players.