NAIROBI, September 23 – National women sevens head coach, Mike Shamiah, has made one change in his squad of 12 that will do duty at this weekend’s 2016 Africa Olympics qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mwamba RFC’s Laventer Oguta replaces fly-half Doreen Remour in the only adjustment from the team that won bowl at the 2015-16 Rugby Sevens Women’s World Series qualifiers in Dublin, Ireland.
The Lioness are drawn in a relatively easy Pool B where they will face Tunisia, Senegal, Botswana and Madagascar but Shamiah says they will not down play any team as they seek to qualify for the Summer Games that will see the rugby sevens for both men and women make a debut.
“Doreen had personal commitments to deal with and we hope she will be back and be able to join us. The girls are psyched up; their hearts and minds are all set for the qualifiers.
“We have prepared well, the girls have worked hard in the last 11 weeks where they have shown a lot of positives. We have strategized on how to approach our opponents where we will take each game at a time. Each match has its own game plan and we believe we will have a good result,” Shamiah, stated when unveiling the squad on Wednesday.
Skipper, Catherine Abilla said the team is motivated after gaining experience in the World Series qualifiers where they played against giants Japan and Netherlands.
“We had good build up in Ireland because we never had any friendlies before to gauge our fitness. We will miss Doreen but his replacement is a player who is ready to take from where she left.
“We are mentally prepared and we would like to play as a team and for our country. Lack of fans will not affect us,” Abilla, who plays as a scrum-half underscored.
Kenya Rugby Union Director in charge of women development, Paula Lanco is hoping the team will play two warm up matches to be at par with the likes of Tunisia who arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday to acclimatize with the weather.
“The women’s team don’t have a sponsor so as much we would have preferred to be there earlier, we couldn’t since we don’t have finances. The invitation from world rugby required teams to start arriving by Thursday so any team that goes there prior that was on their own financial arrangement.
“If we are allowed play one or two warm up matches we will be happy,” Lanco stated.
Kenya who will depart on Thursday are aiming to progress to the final where they are likely to meet rivals South Africa who beat them in last year’s Confederation of African Rugby Cup final in Machakos.
Laventer Oguta, Camylyn Oyuayo, Rachel Mbogo, Janet Owino, Sheila Chajira, Catherine Abilla (captain), Irene Otieno, Celestine Masinde, Philadelphia Olando, Janet Okello, Sinaida Aura, Linet Moraa
Mike Shamiah (Head Coach)
Ben Mahinda (Physio)
Sarah Ogolla (Team Manager)