Defending champions, New Zealand, who are bidding for a fifth successive Club Games crown, Samoa, England, Australia and hosts Scotland are the HSBC Sevens World Series regulars standing in Kenya’s way in the push for the podium in Glasgow in the competition that runs Saturday and Sunday.
Shujaa are using the Club Games as a perfect launch pad for the forthcoming 2014/15 HSBC World Series where a top-four finish will see them qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympics in Rio where Rugby 7s will make its debut on the grandest stage of sport.
Head coach Paul Treu will be seeking to salvage some pride for Kenya after having a poor outing in last season’s World Series where they finished seventh on 84 points in his first year in charge.
The South African expects his charges to better the class of 2010 that reached Main Cup quarters after camping in Glasgow for two weeks ahead of the Games and has set getting to the medal bracket as his target.
“We are looking forward to the challenge because we know its going to be tough. We want to settle in quickly and like in other tournaments, our strategy is to take a match at time and hope to reach the finals,” Treu told Capital Sport before the team departed for the multi-sport competition.
Glasgow is not strange for Treu and his troops since they have competed at the Scotland 7s, and the squad will be looking to become the first to win a team sport medal for the nation.
Shujaa have assembled their strongest squad that saw the coach maintain his experienced players who participated in the World Series with fly-half Biko Adema being the latest inclusion after Nakuru RFC eight man Martin Owila failed to travel due to visa complications.
Having siblings Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera, skipper Andrew Amonde, Adema as well as winger Horace Otieno who were part of the 2010 squad, Treu will bank on their experience as they aim to qualify from a relatively easy Pool B consisting of South Africa, Cook Island, Trinidad and Tobago.
Kenya open her campaign against the Islanders at 1:16pm local time on Saturday, and are favourites to start on a winning note over their opponents who last competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.
The second match will see them up against Trinidad and Tobago at 9:52pm in a game the Calypso Warriors will be making a comeback after participating in the 1998 and 2002 editions.
Treu will then renew his rivalry against his former employer Springboks in an African derby at 12:10am in their final Group match as they seek to win at least two to be sure of progressing to the Main Cup quarters.
The two sides have met six times this season with the South Africans boasting of a better head to head record after managing five wins to Kenya’s once.
Treu underlined South Africa, the 2010 bronze medallist as the biggest threat in the Group but this will be a perfect opportunity for the team to repeat May performance where they beat Springboks 14-7 at the Glasgow 7s.
If Kenya qualifies to the Cup quarters, they will meet either champions New Zealand, Canada, hosts Scotland or Barbados who forms Group A.
In Delhi, Kenya eased past Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa in the preliminary round before falling 27-5 to Australia in the Main Cup quarter-finals.