NAIROBI, November 15 – Kenya sevens played with nerves before Dennis Ombachi’s determined cross field run and try punched their ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics with a 21-17 victory over Zimbabwe on Sunday.
The final of the Africa Olympics Qualifiers in Johannesburg went to script with Kenya and Zimbabwe vying for the automatic ticket to Brazil and it was left open until the last when Ombachi’s heroics made the difference.
Kenya 7s who remained unbeaten in the two day tournament, thus became the first team sport to confirm their place at the quidrennial sporting carnival where the shorter version of the game will be making its debut.
Benjamin Ayimba’s boys who went to the tournament as top seeds after hosts South Africa went through via the World Series clinically dispatched Tunisia 42-12 in the semis.
The Sables edged out North Africans Morocco 12 -0 to set up the game they all expected to be the ultimate decider.
Zimbabwe almost upset Kenya that could force them to seek the qualifier through the world repcharge.
Entering the encounter as favourites, Ayimba started with Eden Agero in the fly half in favour of experienced Biko Adema.
Skipper, Andrew Amonde set up the tone with a breakaway try after Willy Ambaka set him up for Agero to convert for a 7-0 lead.
A determined Zimbabwe who missed last season’s core status to Russia by a whisker, responded with an unconverted try to open up the game.
The Sables build on their confidence to take the lead when their attacker dashed past two backs to touch down on the hooter to see Shujaa trail12-7 at the interval.
Kenya’s all-time record try scorer and vice captain, Collins Injera brought some life with a converted try to reclaim the lead with two points ahead.
Shujaa were made to pay for their mistakes after Zimbabwean winger intercepted a pass to burst from the centre and turnover for 19-17.
Ombachi nicknamed ‘Ghost worker’ was the saviour for Kenya after he picked the ball from the restart to sprint from the left all the way to the try-line for the solo effort winner that saw Kenyan fans who travelled to Johannesburg and those who leave there have something to smile about.
In the semis, Kenya Harlequin’s winger Frank Wanyama grounded a brace of tries in a match where Injera who notched a try was sent to the sin bin as Amonde, Agero and Homeboyz’s Oscar Ayodi were also on the score sheet.
After a patient build up, Wanyama who was featuring tor the national team for the first time broke the deadlock after receiving the ball from the line-out to sprint to the try-line for Adema to convert.
Amonde laid off a pass to Agero who went over behind the sticks for the converted try before the captain led by example to touch down the third from Jaffrey Oluoch set up.
Tunisia Pulled one try back that they missed the conversion to take the scores 21-5 at the interval.
Second half substitute, Injera gave Kenya the fourth try after quickly touching down from a foul as Adema fed Wanyama with a long range pass for the Quins player to complete his double for a 35-5 lead.
Injera was then sent to the sin bin to enable the North Africans reduce the deficit but Ayodi was up to the task to hammer the final nail on Tunisia’s coffin with a converted try.
Kenya were 41-0 victors in the quarters that was a repeat of the Pool A clash where Kenya walloped Madagascar 46-0 to wrap up Day one unbeaten.
Ombachi was outstanding, touching down a hat-trick of tries as Ayimba charges showered their superiority after being seeded top by virtue of being the only core side in the tournament.
Oluoch, Injera, Agero and Amonde scored the other tries.