NAIROBI, Kenya, June 4- Six new call-ups are among 35 players named in the provisional squad of the national 15s side that will seek to defend their Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) title in Tunisia.
Kenya Harlequins pair of James and Joseph Kang’ethe, KCB’s Oliver Mang’eni and Fabian Olando, Strathmore’s Charles Omondi and Edwin Machanje of Mwamba are the new inclusions in the team rolled out by head coach Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno on Monday.
Patrice Agunda, Oscar Ouma and Nato Simiyu make a comeback after featuring for the 7s side during the recently concluded IRB Sevens World Series.
Speaking during the team naming, the coach maintained pressure will be on his side to sustain the form as they face more opponents unlike last year where only Tunisia contested after the last minute withdrawal of Namibia and Morocco.
“Next year the Group 1A competition will be used as a World Cup qualifier, you have to ensure you stay put within the group since the last team will head for relegation.
“Besides defending the title, we have the task to clinch this opportunity that will boost our chances of qualification as we seek to participate in the World Cup,” explained Otieno.
Kenya will face neighbour Uganda in the semis with last year’s beaten finalists Tunisia taking on Zimbabwe for the right to contest the final in the event that will run from July 9 to 15 in Tunis.
With the bulk of the players having participated in the Elgon Cup and recently concluded Bamburi Rugby Super Series, the coach will prioritize on sealing some tactical errors before he further trims the travelling squad to 24.
“They are some glaring weakness that we noticed during the Elgon Cup that eventually cost us the title loss to Uganda particularly in our conversion as well as having inconsistency in attack
“We will also be keen to learn from the Bamburi Super Series where I witnessed a lot of mistakes in defence besides ensuring that we translate dominance in possession into results,” he added.
The team which was been in training for the last one month will play some friendly matches before they travel to Tunisia and later take on Zimbabwe in the Victoria Cup.
“I have requested two international friendly matches on the last two weekends of June which I’m optimistic will materialize but just in case we fail to secure one, we will do a build up with some local team.
Joel Ng’ang’a (Quins/Rhinos), Moses Amusala (KCB/Lions), Sammy Warui (Nakuru/Rhinos), Curtis Lilako (KCB/Lions), Dennis Karani, James Kang’ethe, Joseph Kang’ethe (Quins/Rhinos)
Second Row/Lock Forward
Anthony Mutai (Quins/Rhinos), Ronnie Mwenesi (Nondies/Cheetahs), Wilson Kopondo (Quins/Rhinos), Oliver Mang’eni (KCB/Lions)
Duncan Ekasi (Impala/Cheetahs), Charles Omondi (Strathmore/Sharks), Brian Nyikuli (Quins/Rhinos), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru), Kevin Umbuge (Impala/Cheetahs)
Lawrence Buyachi (Impala/Cheetahs), Brian Okwomi (Strathmore/Sharks), Edwin Machanje (Mwamba/Lions)
Peter Mutai (KCB/Lions), Edwin Achayo (Quins/Rhinos), Isaac Adimo (Quins/Sharks), Eden Agero (Quins/Rhinos)
Nick Baraza (Quins/Rhinos), Kelvin Omiyo (Homeboyz/Cheetahs), David Ambunya (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Fabian Olando (KCB/Lions), Maurice Mbai (Strathmore/Sharks), Patrice Agunda (Quins)
Dennis Muhanji (Quins/Rhinos), Tony Onyango (Strathmore/ Sharks), Vincent Mose (Impala/Cheetahs)
Chris Oduor (Quins/Rhinos), Nato Simiyu (Impala)