NAIROBI, Kenya, June 22 – The Kenya Simbas will seek to seal the win in the first half when they host rivals Uganda in the second leg of the Elgon Cup cum Africa Gold Cup opener at the RFUEA Grounds on Saturday.
Team Manager Wangila Simiyu has called on his charges to finish the job in the opening 40 minutes owing to the small five point lead picked up from their 18-23 win over the Cranes in the first leg played in Kampala a fortnight ago.
He has also called on the squad that sees Newcastle Falcons ace Joshua Chisanga drafted in the first XV, not to underrate the Ugandans.
“We were over confident in the first half when we played Uganda away and it cost us. This time the boys know what it takes because Ugandans have improved. We have polished up our scrum and racks.”
“It’s only to ensure we take up our chances and the five point difference is increased before the end of the first half,” Simiyu declared on Thursday when he named the 23-man squad that will battle the Cranes.
“We don’t want to put Kenyans under pressure because Uganda beating Kenya is like a World Cup to them so it’s important not to underrate them. We respect them and we are taking that match as a big game.”
A win for the Simbas will mean they successfully defend the Elgon Cup and win it for a record 10th time.
Simiyu is aware of the dangers Cranes can cause upfront and will be looking to solidify the back-line that will be led by the burly Chisanga.
“We know Uganda have made several changes based on what happened in Kampala and the players that have been included are not new to us. We know they want to go upfront heavy so that they can take on us the way the Germans did, but we have already trained on that and we are technically superior on one or two areas so they should expect some surprises.”
The Team Manager accepted they will miss the services of skipper Wilson K’Opondo who is ruled out of this crunch with a shoulder injury he picked against Germany last month.
“I’m glad to report that he (K’Opondo) is responding well in training. It will be quit unfair to rush him into this game although he is willing to play but we want a 100 percent fit player on the pitch. By the Tunisia game I presume he should be ready,” said the coach.
Kenya has a tight run of games as after the Elgon derby against the Ugandans, they will switch attention to the back to back second and third Gold Cup matches against Tunisia and Senegal from July 8 in Nairobi.