NAIROBI, May 26 – The national 15s team is out for revenge against Zimbabwe when the two sides lock horns in the opening round of the 2015 African Cup in Harare on June 13.
The Sables of Zimbabwe shattered Kenya’s dreams of making their maiden appearance at 2015 Rugby World Cup at last year’s qualifiers but Team Manager Wangila Simiyu send a strong warning saying they are out to reclaim the continental title held by Namibia.
Simiyu was speaking on Tuesday when naming a 23-man squad to face Portugal in Saturday’s International Rugby Board test match against Portugal at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds.
“The hunger that we have tells it all, we are in contention for Africa Cup because we want to reclaim want was ours. Sometimes in life when you are beaten, you pick up the pieces and move on; you don’t just sit and say you have been defeated. We are fighting back to make sure we get where we were before.
“We have an innovative youthful side that we are also building for 2019 World Cup qualification,” Simiyu who was on the technical bench when his side was beaten 27-10 by Zimbabwe declared.
Head coach Jerome Paarwater who is set to arrive on Wednesday from his native country, South Africa has handed KCB pair of Jacob Ojee and Peter Karia as well as Impala RFC’s Sammy Oliech their test debuts in the international friendly where Kenya will be seeking to improve on her 32nd worldwide ranking.
However, among the notable missing in the squad that is dominated by Kenya Cup Champions KCB, are skipper Wilson Kopondo, Western Bull’s Davis Chenge, KCB’s Max Adaka and Strathmore Leos fly-half Kenny Andola who are reserved for the Africa Cup.
Kenya will enter the encounter as underdogs but Simiyu outlined they intend to attack in the first half to be able to contain the experienced Portuguese who are ranked nine places above them.
“We had an opportunity to access their game, majority of them play in the French league but that doesn’t matter it’s all about competition. They are big, aggressive and versatile.
“We mastered a lot during Vodacom Cup and that’s the experience we will carry on in the game. People should expect a lot of explosive rugby and a very fast game in the first 30 minutes. Basing on their sizes we want to take it as their weak point and strength for us,” Simiyu explained on how they approach the game.
Stand in captain, Brian Nyikuli said they are ready for the big test where they intent to start on a winning note as they aim on finishing the year by improving their IRB ranking to 25th in the world.
“There was a lot of disappointment because we were only one game away to qualify for World Cup but if you look at these five games a lot is at stake. If we win all of them we are guaranteed of being ranked top 25.
“That means IRB will increase their funding and our game will not only rise internationally but also locally,” the Strathmore Leos player stated.
After the Portugal match, Kenya will host Tunisia June 28 in Nairobi before facing Spain in another international friendly July 18.
The Simba 15s will conclude their season with an away tie to World Cup bound Namibia August 18.
Sammy Oliech (Resolution Impala Saracens), Darwin Mukidza (KCB), Fabian Olando (KCB), Kelvin Omiyo (Top Fry Nakuru), Jacob Ojee (KCB), Isaac Adimo (Kenya Harlequin), Lyle Asiligwa (Kenya Harlequin), Joshua Chisanga (Homeboyz), Michael Okombe (Top Fry Nakuru), Brian Nyikuli (Pan Africa Strathmore Leos/Captain), Emmanuel Mavala (Homeboyz), Oliver Mang’eni (KCB), Curtis Lilako (KCB), Sammy Warui (Top Fry Nakuru), Moses Amusala (KCB)
Peter Karia (KCB), Duncan Mwangi (Kabras Sugar), Isaiah Nyariki (Top Fry Nakuru), Martin Owillah (Top Fry Nakuru), Ronnie Mwenesi (Total Nondies), Robert Aringo (Resolution Impala Saracens), 22. Vincent Mose (Resolution Impala Saracens),Dennis Muhanji (Kenya Harlequin)