NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – After recovering from injury, Sheila Chajira will make her comeback as the Kenya Lionesses squad that heads to South Africa for the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in Johannesburg was named on Thursday afternoon.
Chajira has been out since the Hong Kong Sevens in April after picking up an ankle injury during the semi-final match against Brazil.
Her return to the fold will be a massive boost to the team with her experience on the big stage bringing a new dynamism to the team as they seek to earn a ticket to the World Cup.
“I am very excited to be actively back in the set up. I have been attending the training sessions as I did my rehab and I strongly believe that we shall deliver,” said Chajira.
As part of their preparation for the tournament, the Lionesses participated in this year’s Elgon Cup and emerged victorious in both home and away matches beating the Uganda Lady Cranes with a 77-18 aggregate score.
Meanwhile, Head Coach Felix Oloo has handed Vivian Akumu and Naomi Amuguni their maiden call ups to the National Team as they head to South Africa.
“We’ve been polishing up on the rusty areas we identified during the Elgon Cup and also ensuring each player understands their role in the team. We have an on-going camp and we’re confident that the selected team will make Kenya proud,” said Oloo.
The Lionesses will kick off their campaign against Madagascar on August 9 before they face off with Uganda four days later and then finish off their campaign against South Africa on August 17.
Considering that there isn’t yet an established African ranking for women’s fifteen-a-side rugby, the four fifteens teams were chosen on the basis of the level and frequency of play of the female players.
The winner of the tournament will qualify directly for the World Cup whilst the losing finalist will play a match against a selected team from South America and join the global repechage tournament if victorious.
Kenya Lionesses squad
PROPS: 1. Juliet Nyambura (Northern Suburbs), 2. Imogen Hooper (Northern Suburbs), 3. Everlyne Kalimera (Mwamba), 4. Mercy Migongo (Homeboyz)
HOOKERS: 5. Knight Otuoma (Kisumu RFC), 6. Staycy Atieno – (Mwamba), 7. Victoria Gichure (Northern Suburbs)
LOCKS: 8. Millicent Opala (Homeboyz), 9. Bernedatte Oleisia (Shamas Rugby Foundation), 10. Enid Ouma (Homeboyz)
BACK ROWS: 11. Emmaculate Owiro (Homeboyz), 12. Mitchelle Akinyi (Impala Ladies), 13. Leah Wambui –Homeboyz), 14. Janet Owino (Homeboyz), 15. Naomi Amuguni – (Mwamba)
HALFBACKS: 16. Irene Atieno (Homeboyz), 17. Veronicah Wanjiku (Nakuru), 18. Vivian Akumu (Nakuru),19. Grace Adhiambo (Nakuru)
CENTRES: 20. Philadelphia Orlando (Northern Suburbs), 21. Celestine Masinde (Mwamba), 22. Sheila Chajira (Homeboyz)
BACK THREE: 23. Diana Awino (Impala Ladies), 24. Stella Wafula (Impala Ladies), 25. Christabel Lindo (Impala Ladies), 26. Janet Okelo (Mwamba).