NAIROBI, Kenya, October 26 – After retaining the Impala Floodlit title last weekend, focus for KCB Lions turns to dethroning Top Fry Nakuru from the Kenya Cup throne when the top flight league gets underway on November 8.
The former league champions have seen ‘Wanyore’ steal the thunder from The Den in the last two seasons but head coach Curtis Olago who led them to bank a fourth Floodlit crown has laid down the Kenya Cup challenge for his side.
Youngster Billy Isabwa who featured in the national under-19 Confederation of African Rugby Division 1 A Championship in Namibia as one of the figure heads of a new look youthful side that is revving to give Nakuru a run for their cooking oil next season.
Marlin Mukolwe, Brian Sagara, Curtis Lilako, Peter Waitere, and winger Collins Wanjala were other emerging talent given the opportunity to run out for the side that ran rampant during Saturday night’s Floodies final where Lunchbar Queens were given a 30-3 mauling.
En route to the honours, they silenced hosts Impala 25-19 before ending a four year jinx against Wanyore whom they edged 25-21 in a keenly contested semi.
Olago however, declared the team that has produced quality players for the national sevens and 15s sides sauch as Shujaa skipper Andrew Amonde, Jacob Ojee, Oliver Mang’eni and Fabian Olando is yet to gel as they plot an assault on the Kenya Cup they last lifted seven years ago.
“It’s a hard task to defend the title but good work done by the boys. When they started this tournament they knew what they wanted and they have achieved it, we wanted to try young players and they have really stood out.
“The team is still undergoing transition because there are some senior players who have already retired and these young guys have to learn the ropes very fast and should be ready to lift the team when necessary because Kenya Cup is a different game,” Olago who led the Lions to hold on to their National Sevens Series Circuit title last season explained.
KCB scooped all individual awards for the Impala Floodlit tournament with Peter Karia taking two accolades, the top try scorer with four and Most Promising Player, Essau Otieno and Most Valuable Player in Allan Omuka.
-Quins ready for Kenya Cup-
Quins on the other hand who last lifted the Floodies in 1998 sent an early signal they will be among the teams to watch in the new season but head coach Enos Otieno has selection headaches as he vies for a 10th league crown.
With Quins having used the Floodlit competition as a breeding ground, they proved to be no pushovers after eliminating a decorated Mwamba side 30-13 in the quarters before walloping Mean Machine 20-3 to storm the finals.
“When we were one man down they scored two tries which made it hard for us to catch up. The boys gave it their all in this tournament and gave us the technical bench a hard time to select the squad from over 70 players who have shown intensions to don the Quins jersey.
“I’m sure the coming season is going to be very competitive but my boys have shown they want to give their hearts out and make a difference to the side. We have had a good preparation ahead of the new season considering we have played three weekends consecutively.”
Quins captain and national 7s forward Patrice Agunda said they will be working on their set-pieces and defence that cost them the title.
In the Floodlit decider, KCB touched down four tries and two with Otieno punishing the Ngong Road based side after converting two penalties for a lead 6-0 lead at the interval.
Adimo managed to pull one four minutes after the break from a drop goal but that was their last score as KCB ran rampant extending the lead from a penalty try before Allan Omuka scored against his former club.
Winger Wanjala and Ojee sealed the win after breaking through Quins porous defence.
Nakuru RFC beat University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine 24-16 to finish third.