Rugby Rugby

Simbas face acid test against Namibia

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Kenya 15s in action against Tunisia.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – For the last five matches, the national 15s team has only managed to beat power house Namibia once and that will be a motivation to the Jerome Paarwater charges as they seek to end the jinx when the two sides clash in the 2017 Africa Gold Cup decider at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek.

Odds favour the defending champions and hosts Namibia who have a perfect record in the 2017 campaign, having won all their matches to sit pretty top in the standings with 20 points, four ahead of second placed Kenya who have won three and drew one.

Playing away from home, Kenya are yet to find a formula of pinning down Namibia at their backyard with the last time the two sides met seeing the Simbas receive a 56-21 beating at the same Hage Geingob Stadium last year.

The last time Kenya overcame Namibia was in 2014 when the Simbas picked a 29-22 victory at the RFUEA Ground in Nairobi in a World Cup Qualifier cum Africa Cup under the tutelage of South African Paarwater.

Kenya Simbas captain Wilson Kopondo in training.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Heading to Saturday’s do or die crunch that will kick-off at 6pm Kenyan time, Paarwater has maintained faith in the winning squad that beat Zimbabwe as Wilson Kopondo captains the team from second row partnering with Simon Muniafu.

Oliver Mang’eni once again misses out after work commitments make it challenging for him to link up with the squad in good time.

Speaking after naming the team on Friday at the team hotel in Windhoek, Paarwater is optimistic of upsetting Namibia.

“It’s our last game tomorrow (Saturday) against Namibia, it is like a final. It’s going to be a tough game and we will approach it like a final. We don’t have a great record in Namibia and want to put up a good performance this time.”

Kenya Simbas Forwards head coach Dominique Habimana (left) and Team Manager Wangila Simiyu (right) when naming the team.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

Team Manager Simiyu exuded confidence that the team will get one over Namibia and reclaim the continental title they last lifted in 2013. The win will also come in handy as it will shape their journey to Japan 2019 World Cup when the proper qualifiers get underway next year.

“When the national anthem will be sung, it’s the 40 million Kenyans that we are representing. Having being welcomed well here in Namibia, we will take the same spirit to the field when we play Namibia. We just want to make a Kenyans smile back at home,” Wangila assured.

Kenya enters the match at the back of a resounding 22-41 victory over Zimbabwe away in Bulawayo and will be depending on assistant captain Darwin Mukidza to carry on the impressive form to the Saturday decider.

Namibia on the other hand enter the match from hammering Uganda 22-48 in Kampala having assembled their professional players, with some having featured at the 2015 World Cup qualifier.

Kenya Simbas assistant captain Darwin Mukidza. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Speaking to Capital Sport, former Kenya Rugby Union chairman Mwangi Muthee said Kenya has a good chance to win Saturday’s match but only if Namibia do not assemble their professional players.

“If Namibia assembles their professional players we are finished. I wish the boys well and success,” Muthee said.

In order to be crowned African champions, the Simbas must win the game without Namibia scoring a losing bonus point or win the game with a try bonus point.

Namibia will on their side retain the title with a win, draw or go down with a losing bonus point if Kenya does not score a try bonus point.

Meanwhile, the Simbas will honor departed KCB RFC back James Kilonzo by observing a minute of silence and donning black armbands during match.

The budding talent’s life was cut short on Monday July 24, 2017 after being shot dead by thugs who raided a mobile money outlet at Nairobi’s Kasarani estate.

READ: Detectives acquire CCTV footage in search for thugs who killed Kilonzo

KCB RFC winger James Kilonzo was shot dead on Monday night at Nairobi’s Kasarani estate.

Kenya Cup champions KCB will on Saturday afternoon hold a touch rugby tournament in honour of their departed player.

The tournament, which will be held at the club’s home ground in Ruaraka, will begin at 2pm and will feature two games open to everyone.

A fundraising is set to be held at same venue next Tuesday.

Kilonzo, 22, propelled the bankers to Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup victories last season and was named man-of-the-tour when KCB toured South Africa for two weeks early this month.

Simbas squad to face Namibia

15.Tony Onyango(Menengai Cream Homeboyz), 14. Darwin Mukidza (KCB), 13. David Ambunya(SportPesa Quins), 12. Leo Seje(Resolution Impala Saracens), 11. Jacob Ojee(KCB), 10. Isaac Adimo(SportPesa Quins), 9. Samson Onsomu(Resolution Impala Saracens), 1. Moses Amusala(KCB), 2. Peter Karia(KCB), 3. Curtis Lilako(KCB), 4. Wilson Kopondo (SportPesa Quins,Captain), 5. Simon Muniafu(Resolution Impala Saracens), 6. Eric Kerre( Resolution Impala Saracens), 7. Davis Chenge (KCB), 8. Joshua Chisanga (Newcastle Falcons) Replacements 16. Philip Ikambili (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), 17. Oscar Simiyu (KCB), 18. Bramwell Mayaka (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), 19. George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), 20. Martin Owila (KCB), 21. Lyle Asiligwa (SportPesa Quins), 22. Kenny Andola (KCB), 23. Dennis Muhanji (SportPesa Quins)

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