NAIROBI, February 18- Kenya 7s head coach Felix ‘Toti’ Ochieng is targeting Main Cup quarter runs at the sixth and seventh legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Hong Kong and Japan after leading the team to their most successful tour to date in Wellington and Las Vegas.
Kenya who were languishing in relegation danger after an underwhelming start to the campaign finally made the last eight in New Zealand where their run ended at the Plate semis before lifting the Bowl in Las Vegas last weekend for 18 points that placed them 12th on the log.
However, Ochieng’ who spoke when the team was hosted to a reception by sponsors Kenya Airways at a Nairobi hotel after their arrival from the USA on Wednesday morning; admitted his charges have a mountain to climb in the blue riband Hong Kong 7s where they are drawn against former Kenya head coach Mike Friday’s USA, England and Wales.
“There is no easy pool, it’s a challenging and exciting pool that gives us opportunity to build on our performance. We shall not single out one team though I know many people are eagerly waiting to see how our game against USA goes.
“The players have shown a lot of character in the two legs, yes we made mistakes but as we went on we picked up the rhythm. It was challenging at the beginning but we kept on progressing since we knew we had to restore our country’s pride,” Ochieng who was making his debut on the world tour since replacing former head coach, Paul Treu underscored.
The team that will be welcoming veteran Humphrey Kayange, fly half Biko Adema and Andrew Lugonzo, Fabian Olando as well as Michael Agevi from injuries, will seek improvement in ball handling and defence that saw them lose to Argentina 14-19 and 14-21 to England in Las Vegas.
“We are in the process of perfection, the players had passion, they went there without fear and favour and that’s why they achieved the results in such a short turn around.
“The more we train together the more we strengthen our defence and we will be working hard in training to see everyone perfects his role. The return of injured players will bring competitiveness but they have to pass the fitness test for them to fight for the positions,” Ochieng’ added.
– Getting better-
Skipper Andrew Amonde was confident the team will finish the season in a respectable position since everybody was comfortable unlike when Treu was in charge.
“We did our best and we are satisfied with what we got from the two rounds, we are still going to work hard and perfect on our weakness to make sure we improve on the rankings.
“We were not surprised when we lost our first game against Argentina in Wellington because we knew we could bounce back. We are very ready to play anyone in Hong Kong since played those teams when we were at our worse. We are not satisfied at where we are and are not going to get tired until we achieve our goals,” Amonde explained.
The team will break for 10 days break before resuming training to prepare for the sixth and seventh legs.
Kenya has already lost hope on earning an automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.