NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – Four-time National Sevens Circuit champions Mwamba RFC have vowed to bounce back to vie for the Main Cup title next weekend as they prepare for their home tournament, the Kabeberi Sevens at the RFUEA Grounds.
Kulabu did not perform as per expectation during the opening leg of the circuit last weekend at the Driftwood Sevens in Mombasa, walking home with the Challenge Trophy after a 12-10 win over KCB in the final.
“It is very motivating for us to head to our home tournament with this trophy and we know we can get better. This week in training, energy will be up. We will have one or two changes in the team to strengthen. We are also hoping the injuries we picked are not bad because we want to build on as a unit from here,” head coach Kevin Wambua told Capital Sport.
The side has to deal with injuries picked by Kevin Atandi and skipper Michael Agevi who missed the second day at Driftwood with Wambua saying it was a precautionary measure.
They lost all their matches in the opening day of the tournament and Wambua has blamed this on pre-tournament jitters as well as an attitude issue, but he says they have learnt their lesson and will be stronger heading to Kabeberi.
“We will wait to see how the players react in training. For me, I don’t play names, I play form. It is all about who steps up better. We will need to improve on game understanding because the new rules especially on the breakdown messed us up,” added the coach.
-KCB fail to sparkle-
Meanwhile, KCB who also failed to sparkle in Mombasa picking a paltry seven points after finishing 10th will be looking to bounce back in Nairobi, hoping they can reciprocate their 15s form into the shorter version of the game.
Head coach Daniel Mwanja blamed their performance on a poor preparatory period, saying the disruption caused by the death of their player James Kilonzo in July took them off balance.
“We were not sharp enough because our preparations weren’t the best because of our bereavement. After losing Kilonzo, the boys’ minds were not settled. They didn’t come here to lose but it has been a steep learning curve. We are in an unfamiliar situation, but we will only get better,” Mwanja said.
Though Mwanja was more philosophical in his approach to the players after their below par performance, overall coach Curtis Olago and Sevens assistant coach Mike Shamiah were not diplomatic as both gave the players a thorough hairdryer treatment.
Mwanja says they will ‘definitely make changes’ for Kabeberi as they look to return the bankers to the top of the ladder. Among the improvements he wants are on defense and racking.
Other than the unexpected bad performances from the big guns, there were surprise packages in the name of Menengai Oilers and Mean machine who reached the Main Cup semis with Oilers winning the underdogs battle 21-0 in the play off.
Oilers, formed just under two years ago beat Mwamba 14-0 and Kisii 17-0 to progress to the Main Cup quarters where they shocked Impala with two unconverted tries.
Head coach Gibson Weru, a former Nakuru RFC and Kenya Sevens star said he was more than pleased with the performance of the team which sets them as top seeds for Pool C heading to Kabeberi.
“I am hugely happy with the performance from the boys. They have taken confidence from the tournament; a second tier team going all the way to the semis is no mean feat. It’s something we have worked towards.”
“We are on our second year and my target this season was to finish in the top six. It’s a young side and it takes time to build the team in terms of character and intelligence,” Weru added.
Weru now hopes to see the side improve further in Nairobi, with the Nakuru based youngsters aiming to work on their mental preparedness after their season opening performance.
“The only thing that can deter us from winning a tournament is the mental aspect of it so we working toward it and every game is a learning experience. We take the lessons and hopefully we improve in Kabeberi,” Weru noted.
The coach has urged his high performing players not to put their feet off the ground, expressing caution that teams will come harder at them having seen how they play and taken note.
Machine who had a disastrous 15s spell where they were relegated after close to six decades also made a statement of intent after sneaking in to the Main Cup quarters ahead of KCB hope as well to keep their form running heading into Kabeberi.
Head coach Ramsfield Matekwa praised his team for their performance, saying they had shown great spirits in all their games.