NAIROBI, June 15 –The national 15s team have to beat Tunisia by a big margin to revive their chances of reclaiming the Africa Cup after beginning their campaign with a dispiriting 28-20 loss away to Zimbabwe in Harare over the weekend.
The Sables were once again a bridge too far for Simba who have been left with an uphill task of steamrolling Tunisia on June 28 in Nairobi with former head coach Michael’ Tank’ Otieno believing the Harare reversed dampened their bid to snatch the title from World Cup-bound Namibia.
Subsequently, Simba dropped a place in the latest world rankings to settle at 30th with Zimbabwe sitting still on 26.
The Sables were leading 14-0 after quarter of an hour before Jerome Paarwater charges stormed back through KCB RFC’s Darwin Mukizda who grounded a try and scored a penalty to level the clash 17-17 at the break.
“The Africa Cup is very competitive and tight because it’s not played on home and away basis and losing to Zimbabwe has put us in a tight situation where we must beat Tunisia by a big margin to ease pressure when we visit Namibia.
“The loss to Zimbabwe has messed our chances of reclaiming the title but one thing we must avoid is finishing fourth that will see us relegated to Division B,” Otieno, who coached KCB RFC to three back-to-back Kenya Cup titles told Capital Sport.
The Kenyatta University’s Black Blad head coach believes Kenya has a compact squad that if natured well will qualify for 2019 World Cup after Zimbabwe ended their dream of qualifying for this year’s edition last year.
“If they can stretch Zimbabwe to 20 points then it’s not a bad squad. We can do even better in future tournaments,” Otieno added.
With the likes of Mukidza coming up well after earning his full international test debut over Portugal where Kenya won 41-15, Paarwater is confident his charges will bounce back against promoted side Tunisia who suffered a 14-22 loss to Namibia.
“People must take note about the quality rugby the guys are playing. Both sides displayed great running rugby and I expected the result to go either way,” the South African noted.
Elsewhere, with defending champions Kenya ‘A’ heading to Kampala on Saturday with a three point first-leg lead in the Elgon Cup, Otieno was positive Mitch Ochola’s charges will retain the regional title.
“It’s a big step seeing a second Kenyan team pushing Uganda to the wall. It will be very nice if we defend the title at their back yard. For the lioness it’s going to be difficult because they played very well here.”
The Simba arrived in the country on Sunday and will resume camp Tuesday to prepare for Tunisia.