Rugby Rugby

Kenya Lionesses eye elusive Africa 7s title

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Kenya in action during their second group match against Papua New Guinea at the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens. PHOTO/World Rugby

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14- The Kenya Lionesses have reached the final of the African Women’s Sevens Championship in five of the last six editions including when it was hosted in Kenya in 2014, but they are yet to have a crack at the title, losing in all the occasions.

Ahead of this year’s showpiece to be staged in Gaborone, Botswana on May 26 and 27, the Lionesses are eyeing an improved performance to challenge for the crown especially with the absence of perennial rivals South Africa who have withdrawn to concentrate on the World Cup.

“Over the last four years we have reached the final but every time we lose it. The last two have been very close and this year, we want to go out there and make things count. We have been preparing very well and our performance in Hong Kong and Gold Coast have boosted our confidence,” Wambua told Capital Sport.

The Lionesses reached the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Sevens and finished seventh at the Commonwealth Games and in both tournaments enjoyed victory a piece against the South Africans.

Wambua hopes the confidence gained from those performances will boost them as they look to conquer Africa.

“I think even if they were in the tournament, we would have still won against them because what was stopping us was a psychological barrier. We beat them twice and the third match which we lost was pretty close so I know we are now at par,” the coach further alluded.

The Lionesses who lost 17-12 to the South Africans in last year’s final in Monastir, Tunisia have been pooled alongside Madagascar and Senegal as top seeds in Pool A.

Kenya Lionesses head coach Kevin Wambua PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“It’s a fair pool but we are not underestimating any opponent. We are going there to do our best in every match. All the teams which come there are in to win and there are no small teams. We need to treat each team with the same seriousness,” Wambua advised.

They faced Madagascar last year as well and were 27-5 winners in the group stage matches.

“We have put in a lot of hard work and that is why we did well in Hong Kong and Gold Coast. We are focused on consistency and ensuring we keep improving,” Wambua added.

Meanwhile, the tactician says he will blend in his squad with young and experienced players, noting there will be at least three debutants in the squad as he seeks to build squad depth.

“We want to have a bigger pool of players with international experience and from the training sessions we have had, there are players who have put their hands up for selection but are yet to get that chance. We will consider them for this tournament blending them with the experienced players we have,” the tactician added.

Wambua will have a huge pool of players to choose his best 13 from with the only absentee being Janet Owino who picked up an injury in Hong Kong.

Africa 7s pools

Pool A: Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal

Pool B: Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Pool C: Morocco, Botswana, Mauritius, Zambia

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